Killer Elite (2011)

Rating: **
Release Date: 9/23/11
Cast: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Dominic Purcell

Solidly mediocre action fare that's bolstered by a strong cast. Danny Bryce (Jason Statham) is a professional killer who gets out of the business and tries to settle down in Australia. Unfortunately, his colleague and mentor, Hunter (Robert De Niro), gets captured by an oil sheik and used as a bargaining chip to coerce Danny into doing that fateful one last job. Bryce needs to kill three British special ops soldiers in exchange for Hunter's life, but in the process he attracts the attention of another ex-SAS man named Spike (Clive Owen), who proves to be a constant thorn in his side. Not surprisingly, there are set-ups and betrayals, and nothing goes as planned. There's also a completely ridiculous romantic side plot thrown into the mix, which ironically is the only source of any real drama that the film has to offer. In fact, the only scene in the film that offers any tension and suspense is when Hunter is tailing Danny's girlfriend in a Parisian subway. Everything else, including the contrived happy ending, is rather mundane and given away in the film's trailer.

Terrible camera work and shoddy editing ruin what look to be well executed action scenes, which is sadly what I've come to expect from domestic films these days. An all-out brawl between Statham and Owen in a hospital is about as exciting as it gets, but the filmmakers fail to take advantage of the situation and spoil the results with bad lighting, herky-jerky camera work, and food processor styled editing. The film also insults the viewer by playing the "based on a true story" card too heavily, which does nothing but break the suspension of disbelief and make you even more critical of the absurd plot. While the actors are charming and handle their roles with ease, the film is easily forgettable and just left me feeling flat.