Susan Granger's review of 'Killer Elite'
Published 1:40 pm, Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Supposedly based on a "true story," it begins in 1979 with contract killer Danny Bryce (Statham) and his grizzled mentor, Hunter (De Niro), poised to execute their target in Mexico. But something goes terribly wrong.
"I'm done with killing," Danny vows. "But maybe killing ain't done with you," notes a sinister agent (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), informing him, a year or so later, that Hunter has been kidnapped by an aging tribal sheikh (Rodney Afif). Noting "this time it's personal," Danny leaves his farm in Australia, where he's retired with his beautiful girl-friend (Yvonne Strahovski), to trek to Oman on a rescue mission. In lieu of ransom, Danny's task is to eliminate a trio of ex-British operatives responsible for murdering the sheikh's three sons during the Dhofar Rebellion but, first, he must obtain videotaped confessions from them and, then, he must make their grisly deaths looks like accidents.
But the execution of that assignment attracts the attention of Spike (Clive Owen), a one-eyed Special Air Services (SAS) vet who's determined to stop Danny and his cohorts, Davies (Dominic Purcell) and Meier (Aden Young).
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Confusingly written by Matt Sherring and helmed by Irish director Gary McKendry, it bears no resemblance to the 1975 Sam Peckinpah film by the same name. Instead, it was adapted from explorer Ranulph Fiennes' fictionalized memoir "The Feather Men," aptly titled because, since no one was supposed to be aware of the UK's shadowy, protective involvement in Oman, those who were engaged in this clandestine geopolitical effort were supposed to maneuver with a touch that's "as light as a feather."
And it's unfortunate that the thriller's most suspenseful moment -- when Danny, strapped to a chair, escapes from his captors by somersaulting through a window -- was revealed in the Coming Attractions.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Killer Elite" is a testosterone-propelled 5, once again romanticizing vigilante justice.