Killer Elite - Blu-ray Review

'If an actor can be a 'guilty pleasure' then Statham is it and his growling assassin-with-a-heart Danny grandstands well when the script pauses for a set piece fight.'

Although Clive Owen's amazing moustache may be an unavoidable clue, some 'clever' marketing bod had clearly decreed that all mentions of the fact that Killer Elite is set in 1980 be banished from the film's promotional campaign. Whilst it is marginally understandable that Disney were terrified that knowledge of John Carter being set on Mars could harm the performance of their property, the reasons behind this shunning of the eighties is somewhat less clear. It's not even as though the decade features prominently, the most obvious reminder of the times being every time Dominic Purcell shows his own facial fuzz on-screen, shaming Owen's offering in to second place.

Whilst those uninterested in the plot can indulge further in a theoretical battle-of-the-beards (Robert De Niro's is scraggly, Aden Young's side burns try to overcome Purcell's but are too neatly clipped for this era) it is left to bald supremo Jason Statham to take leading man duties. Statham's rise to a status which puts him on time-relative par with ex-action heavyweights such as Sly and Arnie is in no small part down to Guy Ritchie's recognition of his gruff deadpan wit, used to great effect firstly in Snatch and latterly in almost everything. Killer Elite is much more straight-faced than that and as such comes across occasionally as being dustily efficient but Statham is still assured and charming in a role which sees his screen time greatly increased over De Niro and at least on a par with Owen. If an actor can be a 'guilty pleasure' then Statham is it and his growling assassin-with-a-heart Danny grandstands well when the script pauses for a set piece fight.

Gary McKendry's film deviates from other Statham-led thrillers in the brain department in that the plotting here threatens to become somewhat labyrinth. Whereas other offerings feature a simple equation (Statham as good/bad man must achieve one or more difficult feats) Killer Elite involves morals, espionage and several different antagonists. Keeping up with the motivations of all involved poses more of a challenge than normal in this sort of formulaic offering and one or two red herrings less - particularly those chucked in near the start - could have helped to keep it on the straight and narrow somewhat more.

But dense plotting or not this more than survives as a vehicle for Statham, De Niro and Owen ensuring he is supported by actors of substance, even if their roles (particularly De Niro's) are somewhat one-dimensional. Asked what his career aspirations are at a young age it is unlikely that Statham would have replied 'consistent purveyor of three-star action films' but nevertheless there are worse, less certain things to do with one's life. It is very difficult, at this moment in time, to imagine walking in to a Jason Statham film and leaving unsatisfied. How many other actor's can you say that about?


  1. Not many. That said, I typically don't find his films all that satisfying.

    Can you imagine asking him that question? Priceless.

    1. Only if there was something in between he and I!

      I just think, at worst, they're middle-of-the-road actioners, which most of the time I can cope with all day long.