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September 24, 2011 | 12:00 p.m. CST
Gary McKendry’s Killer Elite brings big-name stars and action-packed scenes, but don’t expect much else.
Set in the 1980s, which is obvious considering the frequency of sideburns, mustaches, and shiny aviators, the film opens with a literal bang that leaves Danny (Jason Statham) questioning his career choice.Related Movie
Fast forward one year, and Danny is back to his old tricks when his mentor Hunter (Robert De Niro) is captured. All of these life-changing decisions happen in a matter of seconds, a precedent that the rest of the film follows.
Many of the scenes are short and quick — a few blinks and the audience could be lost. The storyline is further complicated with characters jumping between half a dozen countries.
To save Hunter, Danny helps a sheik avenge the death of his three sons by trying to kill their killers. Standing in Danny’s way is Spike (Clive Owen), a former member of a British special operations intelligence unit, who is blindly dedicated to his cause.
While Statham can handle himself in combat, he needs Owen and De Niro to keep things more interesting than a punch here and there. But the actors are never together for very long, so the film falls back on yet another car chase.
There are plenty of guns and gore, with a few creative killings to mix things up — Danny kills one man with only a cup.
But there’s little beyond the film’s hefty dose of violence. For plot and character development, read the book.
In the final 15 minutes, there’s a last ditch effort to give the story some depth, which is quickly followed by two more fight scenes. At least De Niro,, who is disheveled and out of commission for the majority of the film, gets a chance to prove he’s worth his paycheck.