Based on a true story, Killer Elite
races across the globe from Australia to Paris, London and the Middle East in the action-packed account of an ex-special ops agent (Jason Statham) who is lured out of retirement to rescue his mentor (Robert De Niro). To make the rescue, he must complete a near-impossible mission of killing three tough-as-nails assassins with a cunning leader (Clive Owen).
They're not exactly The Expendables
, but the idea of gathering Jason Statham, Clive Owen, and Robert De Niro for special ops duty in Killer Elite
gives rise to some basic expectations: and sure enough, there's Statham as the cool, compact trained killer, and De Niro as the grizzled seen-it-all-veteran of some very off-the-record assassinations, and Owen as the smooth-talking (and curiously mustachioed) insider with a mess to clean up. These three fellows might indeed make for a badass team in some international thriller, but this particular international thriller is so ham-handed and breathlessly "stylish" that the actors are stranded amidst the relentless noise. De Niro's character gets kidnapped early in the proceedings (and spends most of the movie off-screen), so Statham must come back on the job and rescue his old killer-in-arms. But there's a bigger plot a-turning, based on Ranulph Fiennes's novel, which was allegedly a real tale of espionage, although this claim has been disputed. (This film is not related to Sam Peckinpah's 1975 film The Killer Elite
). Director Gary McKendry serves up some bone-crunching moments, which almost drown out the sound of the tin-ear dialogue, and Owen manages to emerge with dignity intact. That will have to suffice as a recommendation for hard-core action fans. --Robert Horton