I have to say I have been looking forward to seeing this film for quite a while, and I really wasn't disappointed. Starring Statham, Owen and, the very special icing on the cake, Robert De Niro, there was huge potential here for either something really good, or something truly dire (or any point in between!). Statham and De Niro are not exactly renowned for being choosy about scripts, and have both made some real turkeys as a result. But luckily here they are both on top form.
Statham is the standard Statham character. The ice cool professional man of violence, here cast as a professional killer. De Niro fills the seen it all mentor/friend role, whose kidnapping forces the Stath back into the game. Sent to hunt down and bump off three SAS men who annoyed Sheikh, he soon runs up against ex SAS man Clive Owen, and the shadowy organisation that backs him. What follows is some well staged action and thrills as Stath sets about completing his mission. The screen really comes alive when De Niro is on, and he gives a surprisingly committed performance. Clive Oven (complete with top lip caterpillar) is convincing as their opponent.
The plot is quite linear with a few holes and there are some real production errors (the film is set in the early eighties, and there are more than a few anachronisms on screen), but we can forgive all of this for the pleasure of the thrills and spills. The recreation of the eighties (ignoring the odd anachronism) is quite well done, and with all the old triumphs and MGs on display along with the odd facial hair it sometimes feels like an episode of the Professionals (no bad thing, I love that series). All it needed was for Stath to adopt a poodle perm and he could be Doyle... My one serious quibble would be that the film is a little too long, with a few scenes tacked on to the end that could have been cut, making the film a bit tighter. But apart from this, it's an excellent film. 4 stars.