Long ago in the far past that is 2001 there was a Short film series called The Hire and in this series Clive Owen played a character called the Driver. And the Driver would get hired and transport people in BMWs. The Driver was tough. Fast forward a year later and we meet The Transporter, played by Jason Statham. Now the character Statham played in this film is very much like Owen’s Driver but instead drives Audi cars. Now this led to great debate from action fans on who was better Owen or Statham? That brings us to Killer Elite, which it’s entire purpose it bring us this meeting on the big screen.
The film starts with Danny (Statham) in Mexico with his mentor and partner, Hunter (DeNiro) on an assassination job. The year is 1980. They set up the mark perfectly and Danny goes in for the kill. But Danny gets an unexpected surprise and the jobs starts to go bad. In that moment Danny has a change of heart and wants to get out of the business much to Hunter’s disappointment.
Now a year later, Danny is in Austrailia living a simple life. He gets up one morning to find a letter with a plane ticket and a photo of his mentor Hunter captured. Danny goes to the Middle East where he is given the mission to kill the British SAS soliders that killed a wealthy man’s three sons during a war in order to get Hunter free. While Danny is completing his mission it brings him at odds with a secret military society called the Feather Men and their head operative Spike (Owen).
Now this film delivers on what it is selling. Big Hits. Big Action. And Jason Statham fighting Clive Owen. This film has no real surprises, the turns and double crosses are in there where you can expect them. But you shouldn’t go into this for surprises. There are some good kills, car chases, and following of targets.
Statham gives his standard hero performance of a tough guy with a heart that we’ve seen in all of his action movies to date. DeNiro is stretching by any means, this is pay check having fun making a movie DeNiro. It’s a similar performance like we got from him in Limitless, brash and New York. Clive Owen give a great performance as Spike, as the antagonist you want to root against him but his motivations and seemingly normal guy private eye look makes you want him to win at times more than Statham’s Danny. Dominic Purcell plays a member of Danny’s crew named Davies that is a really fun to watch on screen. He’s violent comedy relief most of the time he’s on screen.
The Director Gary McKendry did a decent job. Every shot is easy to follow and the overall pacing of the picture is fine. You won’t get lost in the story or on screen. I do think the that the crew could’ve taken more care to make the film feel more like 1980. The film looks too modern and the clothing didn’t once feel like the late 70s to 1980 that would have been around in that time. Only the character Davies looked like that time period.
Overall this film is good time for an early fall action release. This is great for a Friday night or a weekend afternoon. It’s not fine cinema and it’s not going to win any awards but you also won’t feel like you didn’t get what you came for.
Final Grade C+
first published on Reel Film News