If you were bent out of shape by the recent remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 Straw Dogs, fear no sacrilege to Bloody Sam with Killer Elite, which has no connection but title to Peckinpah’s 1975 CIA action flick. This Killer Elite is a battle of kicks, grunts, guns and vain muscle-flexing involving Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro, who wisely sits out most of the heavy lifting. Guys who’ve been put through chick-flick hell by women who forcefeed them perfumed pabulum like I Don’t Know How She Does It should consider this testosterone payback.
Statham plays Danny, a retired Navy Seal and hired assassin who’d rather shack up in Australia with his curvy girlfriend (gorgeous Yvonne Strahovski). But they’re pulling him back in. An Omani sheik (Rodney Afif) has kidnapped and tortured Danny’s old killing partner, Hunter (De Niro), and won’t let him go until De Niro gives a decent performance again. Just kidding. The sheik wants Danny to go medieval on the ass of some British Special Air Service jocks who killed his sons. The sheik also wants Danny to bring back video confessions and proof of the kills. So Danny builds his team. And Clive Owen, as Spike (love the name!), builds his SAS team to stop him and protect his comrades.
The fun, such as it is, is all in the hardass action, and newbie director Gary McKendry delivers the goods. Statham is dynamite at this mayhem, though The Bank Job showed he could do better. Owen seethes with manly brio. And De Niro’s grin seems motivated by more than a paycheck. But there’s nothing elite about this disposable time-killer. Based on The Feather Men by ex-SAS officer Ranulph Fiennes (Ralph’s cousin), Killer Elite pretends to be fact-based and true to its 1980s period. Just know it’s all baloney.
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