*1/2 (out of four)
British special agent Danny Bryce (Jason Statham, of course) thought he could retire to Australia and hang with a woman (Yvonne Strahovski of “Chuck”) who knows nothing about him but apparently loves him anyway. Sorry, pal: To save your kidnapped friend and ex-colleague Hunter (Robert De Niro), first you have to kill English soldiers and avenge the deaths of three sons of an Omani Sheikh, whose plan for revenge probably could have been simplified.
The buzz: The movie opens with text telling us that “The world is in chaos,” which is so helpful because otherwise all of the gunfire and violent revenge would have suggested that everyone’s hunky dory. Set in the early ‘80s, the film is based on a true story (Ranulph Fiennes’ book “The Feather Men”), though, so maybe “Killer Elite” isn’t as generic as it seems. The presence of Clive Owen (as an officer on Danny’s tail) usually helps.
The verdict: Tough crap, action fans, ’cause this is tough crap. “Killer Elite” does have a lot of punching and shooting, if you like that sort of thing, and plenty of locations around the world. Every setting, however, from Mexico to France, is just another place for ordinary action sequences and painful dialogue about how this isn’t personal. It’s just business and, according to Danny, “Killing’s easy; living with it’s the hard part.” He actually doesn’t seem to have any trouble living with it, and his humanitarian principles of avoiding collateral damage are almost comical compared to the ruthlessness he shows toward everyone else. Aside from Danny using a loaf of bread as a silencer, the best moment is when he defends himself by doing a front flip sitting in a chair. The trailer’s generously showed that to viewers so they can skip the rest of the film.
Did you know? Just before he’s savagely killed, a moronic minor character steps behind a thin plastic curtain to talk trash about the obviously dangerous person he just met. Dude, he can hear you.
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