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Film reviews

Feb 29, 2012

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The most impressive achievement in director Gary McKendry’s Killer Elite is its least pleasurable: finding a way to make an action-packed globetrotting hit man movie punctuated by muscles, guns and shit-eating snarls as dull as ditchwater. Even audiences after nothing more than a biff to the senses are likely to leave feeling as dudded as a sucker in a three card monte routine.

There is a pervasive sense of soullessness that washes over the film, a feeling that nobody believes in what they’re doing or their ability to entertain — from the walking-dead performances of Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert DeNiro to a script that seems doggedly persistent on side-stepping any remotely consistent form of entertainment.

Statham, comfortable in caricature-of-himself mode, plays a jet-setting assassin who must send a hard goodbye in the direction of a bunch of former SAS killers to release his close friend and mentor, played by Robert DeNiro, from the clutches of a vengeful sheik.

DeNiro spends much of the film holed up in a dusty, dirty prison, shuffled onto the set for bookend appearances. It’s an embarrassing performance that exists in the grey area between protracted cameo and supporting character. Like much of DeNiro’s work over the last decade or so, seeing him in the role feels amusingly air-headed at first but dispiriting and sad later, like observing somebody hit by an early onset of senility.

The film jumps between locations — London, Paris, the Yarra Valley, etcetera — with virtually no sense of travel, as if the characters never moved cities despite the widely different backdrops. Perhaps it needed a travel montage scene, like Indiana Jones or The Muppets — the ones with a map and an arrow. But most of all, it needed momentum. How Killer Elite can geographically change locations so rapidly yet feel so stagnent is another of its curious achievements.

Killer Elite’s Australian theatrical release date: February 23, 2012. 

Luke Buckmaster —

Luke Buckmaster

Writer, Critic and The Daily Review Journalist

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5 comments

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5 thoughts on “Killer Elite movie review: action packed forty winks

  1. Aliar Jones

    [If you go and see a movie with Jason Statham in it then you know what to expect! ]

    Actually, usually you can expect a great action thrill ride. Check out the two transporter films…

  2. Ross Gilmour

    Sad to see Bobby DeNiro in anything now.

  3. Aliar Jones

    I found it unwatchable. Probably one of the worst directed action films in cinema history with one of the best casts.

    It’s not frenetic, it’s delirious and silly, zero suspense.

    What a waste of 80mill and doing the local industry zero favors

  4. Johnfromplanetearth

    If you go and see a movie with Jason Statham in it then you know what to expect! He ain’t doing a chick flick anytime soon. If you want a snooze fest and a career in artistic decline then go and see Wahlberg in Contraband!

  5. Neil Walker

    Forget Robert DeNiro’s performance (he probably already has) in Killer Elite.

    How did Kate Neilson fare in the pivotal role of Air Hostess? It must be important since it’s been promoted as such relentlessly by both the Herald Sun and The Age for the past year or so.

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