Friday, 21 December 2012
After watching the awful artificially sugared The Santa Clause I had to seek some cleansing. I had to watch me a film with a body count. Killer Elite immediately sprang to mind by virtue of its name alone.
Titles may not be enough to get me to watch a movie, but casts sure are. Killer Elite sports some of my favorite names, specifically Jason Statham in the lead and Clive Owen. You also might have heard of one Robert De Niro doing a support role. Most importantly, though, Killer Elite utilizes the services of one Yvonne Strahnovski, the Aussie who gave not only her voice but her likeness as well to the character of Mass Effect’s Miranda.
Allegedly based on true events (although it’s hard to tell how loosely), Killer Elite follows Danny (Statham). He’s a pro SAS commando killer but he’s a good guy: as we are introduced we witness this merciful soul killing only the baddies and sparing the kids while taking bullets for his mercifulness. Lucky for Danny that Hunter (De Niro) is around to save him.
Years (?) later, in the early eighties, we see Danny again at a new life in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, near Melbourne. There he is busy building a house/farm of his own together with gorgeous partner Anne (Strahnovski), who is obviously completely clueless as to her partner’s background. Danny receives a wakeup call in the shape of a message informing him he has to show up before an Arab VIP or Hunter dies. Leaving Anne behind without much of an explanation, Danny ventures to the Middle East.
The Arab guy sends Danny on a mission: kill the three British intelligence people who killed three of his four sons and he will let Hunter go. Reluctantly, and after killing a few more people for dessert, Danny accepts. Obviously, the British won’t take his killing lying down; they will do their best to hide their dodgy dealings in Arab oil while the likes of ex commando Spike (Owen) will do their best to look after their mates. Action prevails in this bare knuckles movie.
There isn’t much to Killer Elite other than action. It’s a lot like Ronin in style, trying to issue some cynical statement about this world we live in through the action but generally failing. That said, the action is not bad at all; it’s very raw and does not rely on digital effects. Sadly, when things get to the face to face level Killer Elite reverts to the dreaded shaky camera coupled with fast editing technique which not only prevents being able to tell what’s going on but is also quite annoying at the headache/vomit induction level. Send the director to action filming school, please!
As is by now normal for films depicting seventies/eighties UK, things all look darkish, brownish and gritty. Miranda (I should say Strahovski, shouldn’t I?) brightens things up through easing the load on the eyes department but her role is that of the classic token beautiful woman. As in, shut up and look pretty.
Best scene: In an otherwise effective but unextraordinary movie, some of the nicer attractions came through recognizing the Melbourne landmarks significant bits of Killer Elite were shot at. For example, there is the Melbourne street that passes for a Parisian one. The best, however, is left to a shootout at an allegedly Parisian train station. It felt pretty cool to see De Niro shooting his way through the same train I take to work every day and at familiar City Loop stations.
Overall: Effective action, ordinary movie. 3 out of 5 stars.