The convoluted storyline involves a group of assassins going after British Special Air Service (SAS) for alleged wrongdoing they participated in against a Middle Eastern sheik. Of course, the politics of it all are confusing and a bit foreign to American audiences. But Statham’s character is, you guessed it, an assassin whose partner is played by Robert De Niro. When De Niro’s character is kidnapped by the aforementioned sheik, Statham’s super assassin is forced out of retirement to pull one last series of hits in order to free De Niro from custody. The killings attract the attention of a shadowy club of ex-British SAS who employ Clive Owen’s character to combat Statham’s team.
Based on a 1991 book by Ranulph Fiennes titled “The Feather Men,” the story supposedly has some basis in fact. But the movie is right out of the Hollywood playbook. Working only as a b-movie, “Killer Elite” has little more going for it than Statham and Owen clashing in a couple well-choreographed fight scenes and De Niro dusting off his boxing skills to duke it out in a subway sequence.
First time director Gary McKendry adopts a gritty visual style and puts together a solid direct-to-dvd offering that wouldn’t have likely seen a theatrical release but for its impressive cast. But instead of just jumping head-long into an action fest, McKendry tries to develop both character and story which has the effect of slowing things down to a drag at times—“Killer Elite” feels longer than it is. The political posturing comes off hollow and the action merely an awkward wrapper.
“Killer Elite” probably should have been serialized on BBC television, and as a movie it isn’t worth an investment of the prime ticket price.