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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Killer Elite

I guess Clive Owen saw Blitz, too. :/

It's amusing watching an actor not be able to say a line of dialogue without laughing. Sure, that might have been written into the script. But, given the intelligence and weight behind the dialogue in Killer Elite - the remake to destroy the good name of the remake - it was probably unavoidable. An example: a man describes to another man that one of the killings must look like it were unintentional. "Why?", basically. "That's why we're called 'The Feathermen'. Because our touch is... haha... light." Oh.

And this is what passes for a screenplay in 2011.

The story revolves around a book, which was actually written, and is apparently a true story. So, the trailer can get away saying that this film is based on a true story. When, in actuality, it's merely associated with a true story. That might not even be true in the first place. For all intents and purposes, this story could be as true as Fargo. But, we'll never know - the book is called The Feathermen (familiar?) and was written by Ranulph Fiennes about his experiences in the SAS (special armed services). The book was denounced by government, everything in it was denied, and it faded into nothing. Probably best, assuming that everything in the book was actually true. What we do know is that it's responsible for this film, and that's enough for me to deny everything as well. 

The film follows Danny (Jason Statham) and Hunter (Robert De Niro) as they assassinate people in 1981. We know it's 1981 only because the movie tells us so. What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a prime example of what I call "Yesterday Syndrome" in which the movie feels like it's taking place yesterday rather than its alleged time and place. There is nothing, and I mean that, that says 1981 except the title card in the beginning. And we can only assume it still takes place in the 80's one year later because, again, we're told so. Suspension of disbelief and suspension of time and space don't often go hand in hand unless you're watching a Kubrick film. 

There isn't much of a story, but rather, an idea. Hunter is Danny's mentor. Hunter is kidnapped, and even though Danny is out of the game, he has to go get him. Because that's what scraggly anti-heroes do. So, Danny goes to get him and gets wrapped up in the job Hunter didn't finish. For an Arab Sheik, assassinate three men who are responsible for his sons' deaths. But, make it look like an accident so there's nothing to trace back to anyone. Okay - that could be cool. But, it isn't. Sorry to ruin the surprise. *shrug* Danny starts killing people, and has a couple of friends come with him to help, and then they all get hunted by this guy named Spike (Clive Owen) who is assigned by the Feathermen to protect Danny's targets. And then some stuff explodes. 

That's basically it. 

I think the most disappointing thing about this film is that it comes on the heels of one of the better releases this year, also from Jason Statham - The Mechanic. In that film, Statham reclaims his right to actually be called an actor, and the film itself proves that action movies don't have to rely solely on action, nor do they have to pretend to be deep. They can be clever, ironic, and even cheeky while still maintaining a certain level of machismo that only an action movie can. It's a "guy" genre, in the same way that the Slasher movie is. Which means, it isn't. Follow me? Makes more sense than this story, anyway. The one leveling thing about Killer Elite is the fact that Clive Owen is too damn good for the film. He's a remarkable actor who manages to always rise above a lame script to deliver a performance light years beyond anyone in the cast. And when your cast includes the name "Robert De Niro", that should be impressive. 

Back in the 80's.