Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ten Statements About....KILLER ELITE (2011)

The truth?  The guy in the chair would kick the ass of
the guy with the gun any day...
1) The pre-title sequence is extremely well-crafted. In just a few minutes, we get a real sense of the relationship between Statham's Bryce and DeNiro's Hunter, learn a little bit about both them and their partner, see them in action and find out why Bryce walked away. It's the sort of quick storytelling that the film really needs...and that we don't see again.

2) The film is frequently in danger of being stolen by Dominic Purcell's Davies and Aden Young's Meier. These two work off each other extremely well--and off Statham--that I sort of wish we could see the three of them put together for an real caper flick. As it is, they light up the screen, and their presence is missed in the film's second half.

3) While I understand that the film is based on a non-fiction book recounting events set in 1981, there's no reason why the film needed to be set in 1981. We never get a sense of the film taking place in the past, and the themes and elements contained within are just as pertinent to a modern day story. On top of that, I'm sure the film is so fictionalized that saying it was 'based on a true story' is questionable (thus the 'suggested by the book' credit at the end). Hell, except for the crawl at the beginning and end of the film, I wouldn't have noticed it was a period piece.

First Stallone, now deNiro...Statham is specializing in
starring with Ass-Kicking Grampas!
4) Look, I know Yvonne Strahovski is uncommonly tall--you only have to look at the shot of her and Statham kissing to realize this--but she still looks weirdly like a much taller woman squished into the form she's in now. That being said, she does her thankless task as Bryce's Girl admirably and with grace, and it's refreshing to see her act with her natural accent.

5) Once again, the shakey cam is a detriment. Hey, I understand that using shakey cam allows the director to hide the use of stunt doubles, but you don't hire Jason Statham and Clive Owen, two of the most physically capable actors around today, and then blunt our attempts to appreciate their physicality by giving the cameraman a triple cappuccino with added sugar.

6) It's real nice to see that director Gary McKendry allows deNiro a small but effective fight sequence to remind us that at one time he was as physically capable as the other two leads.

7) And speaking of deNiro, I do like that the script from McKendry and Matt Sherring presents his Hunter as someone who is proud of Bryce for walking away. All too often, we get the mentors who try to pull their proteges back in, but McKendry realizes the story is about things other than that.

8) I gotta wonder if the sudden appearance of a third player in this film's intrigue just complicates things needlessly, since that aspect of film disappears just as quickly as it is introduced.

Jason Statham is about to kick a guy's ass tied to a chair. 
This is why he is Cooler Than You.
9) I also have to wonder if the secret society of S.A.S. agents, The Feathermen, is truly necessary to the plot. We only see them two or three times giving orders to Owen's Spike, boasting about how they control things...and yet, we never see any proof they do. Isn't the concept of 'Mercenaries Vs. S.A.S. Bad Asses' enough to sell your story?

10) And speaking of The Feathermen...this movie is supposedly 'suggested by' a book named The Feathermen, and yet somebody--McKendry, the producers, whoever--decide to pass on that mysterious sounding name for something as relatively generic as Killer Elite? I suspect someone had Peckinpah on their mind after all.

Overall...meh. Nothing to write home about that could've been better.

Back to the Atlas this time, and another show where someone forgot to turn on the projector lamp until it was time for the trailers. Hearing the audio-only soundtrack to the Firstlook and imagining your own visuals does not make it better. Trailers included The Grey (Daniel Craig versus wolves...shrug), Paranormal Activity 3 (double shrug), J. Edgar (which is really intriguing) and The Rum Diary (which I want to see...the prospect of Johnny Depp returning to Hunter S. Thompson at a point in his career prior to the events of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas without the influence of an outre director like Terry Gilliam is...fascinating).

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