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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Truth in doubt, dullness not

Danny Bryce (Jason Statham) and his partner Hunter (Robert De Niro) follow up on an assassination attempt early in The Killer Elite. Statham would soon decide to retire from killing. Photo courtesy Open Road Films
Danny Bryce (Jason Statham) and his partner Hunter (Robert De Niro) follow up on an assassination attempt early in The Killer Elite. Statham would soon decide to retire from killing. Photo courtesy Open Road Films
Danny Bryce (Jason Statham) and his partner Hunter (Robert De Niro) follow up on an assassination attempt early in The Killer Elite. Statham would soon decide to retire from killing. Photo courtesy Open Road Films
Danny Bryce (Jason Statham) and his partner Hunter (Robert De Niro) follow up on an assassination attempt early in The Killer Elite. Statham would soon decide to retire from killing. Photo courtesy Open Road Films

By Joshua Knopp/managing editor

If the goal of an action movie is a high body count, The Killer Elite delivers, but audiences can’t really enjoy the process.

The film begins with Danny Bryce (Jason Statham), a retired assassin, being coerced to take another job by Sheikh Amir (Rodney Afif), who is holding his former partner, Hunter (Robert De Niro), hostage. The Sheikh wants Statham to extract confessions from and kill three former British SAS troops the Sheikh believes used the Dhofar Rebellion as cover to assassinate three of his four sons. 

As Statham reluctantly begins to kill, a secret society of former SAS agents called the Feather Men begins to track the deaths, which are made to look like accidents.

For an action movie, there’s not a whole lot of action. Because Statham is made to capture and then execute his marks, the process of killing is muted by well-executed ambushes and close eyes kept on the kidnapped targets.

What fight scenes exist are too ostentatious for their own good. Statham and Clive Owen, playing a former SAS agent and current rogue associated with the Feather Men, fight for about 10 minutes when 30 seconds of conversation would reveal they could help each other quite easily.

The action and violence are dulled further by the anti-violence overtone the writers attempted to jam into the film. Through the first 30-45 minutes, Statham won’t shut up about how reluctant he is and how much he pities the people he’s killing. The overtone feels artificial, isn’t supported by the rest of the film and isn’t consistent. It’s just a forced attempt to make Statham more sympathetic.

More than an overtone feels forced. Statham’s girlfriend (Yvonne Strahovski) and agent (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) do little other than distract from the main storyline. Even De Niro is unnecessary beyond his scene in captivity.

When Killer Elite says “based on a true story,” it is meant lightly. The film is based on a book called The Feather Men, written by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and released in 1991. In the book, Fiennes outlines the assassinations later portrayed in The Killer Elite and claims to also have been targeted by “The Clinic” (the name of Statham’s crew in the book) and saved by the Feather Men.

The novel drew the ire of the British government and the families of the deceased SAS agents, both of which claimed the events portrayed in the book were false. Fiennes made a point of never confirming whether the book was fiction or nonfiction.

If The Feather Men was nonfiction, it was dramatized. The Killer Elite goes further to fully Hollywoodize the story, losing more segments of truth.

The Killer Elite doesn’t feel like it has any segments of truth — just Statham and Owen killing people for reasons the audience wasn’t really listening to.

Final Take: Run-of-the-mill action movie that’s light on action and heavy on offensiveness to the British government

Those who would enjoy it: While most people wouldn’t hate it, not many would truly enjoy this movie

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