Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Killer Elite Review

Take the basic revenge story of Munich, add a little Jason Bourne and film it like the Bank Job.  You will get Killer Elite.

I knew basically nothing about this movie going in.  All I had seen was a few ads promoting it.  Those ads showed two of my favourite actors (Clive Owen and Jason Statham) kicking ass so i knew I wanted to see it.  in that respect, it doesn't disappoint.  Over the two hours, there is plenty of Clive Owen and Jason Statham kicking ass.  I didn't know that this movie was based on a true story.  In my mind, that makes it even better.  The story is great.  It's basically about assassins trying to kill assassins (hence the name).  There are no real good guys in this film which gives it a dark element that I really liked.

So, then, why did they have to try and further humanize Danny (Jason Statham)?  The whole angle with his girlfriend is really unnecessary.  Yes, they try to make it necessary but a bit of different writing could have gotten rid of that element all together and the dark theme of the movie would have been much more consistent.  It isn't enough to make it bad but leaving all of that in there was enough to make the film a little too long.

Technically, I'm torn about this movie.  The acting is solid all the way around.  But I am biased because, as I said, I am a fan of both Owen and Statham.  I did not like the casting of Robert De Niro though.  It has nothing to do with his performance.  That is quite solid.  But the role is secondary and his presence seems to take away from the tension between Statham and Owen.  If he isn't one of the leads, that tends to happen because he's Robert freaking De Niro.  I understand why they have him in the film.  It lends huge marketing support and will get people to see it.  But they could have cast a lesser actor in the role and really made it about the two leads.

The writing is a bit convoluted.  The big picture story itself is fairly easy to follow.  However, the exposition is not.  Too often, I was confused as to how they got from one target or plot point to the next.  I usually like it when the film makers leave the audience to figure some stuff out on their own but they leaned a little far towards that in this case.  As a result, it gets a bit confusing.

Finally, the camera work.  I alluded to it being filmed like the Bank Job.  By that I mean just about everything is fairly grainy and washed out.  This is done to make it look like it is taking place in its historical 1980 context.  It's a catch 22 though.  That kind of camera work lends itself well to the dark theme of the movie and the viewer feels it.  However, when it goes on for a full two hours, it tends to affect the viewer a little too much.  So the main point is, again, that the film is a little too long.

All that being said, I give it a see recommendation.  This could be based on my biases towards the actors.  But it does have the action that you expect and a decent story that is deeper than I thought it would be.  However, I would not suggest you put it high on your priority list unless you are a fan of the genre and actors.  If you are you might want to see it sooner.  Otherwise, wait for DVD or on demand where you can pause and back it up to figure out what the hell is going on from scene to scene.

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