We first meet assassins-for-hire Danny (Jason Statham) and Hunter (Robert De Niro) as they casually banter while performing a complex hit in Mexico. Flash forward a year and a retired Danny has retreated to the wilderness only to be called back into action in order to save the POW Hunter from a powerful oil sheik who will only release him in exchange for the deaths of three UK-based assassins that are responsible for the deaths of the sheik’s sons. Danny accepts the job, gets entangled with a shadowy gang of ex-British secret agents, and forms a deadly, but goofy rivalry with the agents’ watchman Spike (Clive Owen). Things play out like you’d expect with a few semi-effective twists and turns along the way. There are an excessive number of scenes wrapping up the plot threads that may seem never-ending depending upon your threshold for lines like “You really are one crazy son of a bitch, Danny.” And it’s all based on a true story.
First-time feature film director Gary McKendry does a fine job following the typical action film template. Characters peer around doorways, lift weapons from the bodies of the unconscious, wear disguises, drive backwards, hang out in storage yards…everything you’d expect from a Hollywood action film. Statham does his usual thing, De Niro has fun as the elder statesman, and Owen is, as always, a pleasure to watch. Great fun if this is your kind of film, but completely standard in the greater scheme of things.
Killer Elite opens wide in Philly-area theaters today.