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20 hrs ago
An ex-special ops agent is lured out of retirement to rescue his mentor. To make the rescue, he must complete a near-impossible mission of killing three tough-as-nails assassins with a cunning leader.
For more about Killer Elite and the Killer Elite Blu-ray release, see Killer Elite Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on January 5, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Yvonne Strahovski, Dominic Purcell, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Director: Gary McKendry
» See full cast & crew
Killer Elite Blu-ray Review
A shrug-inducing actioner earns a killer AV presentation...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, January 5, 2012
I'm beginning to wonder why Jason Statham vehicles have titles. It would be easier to just franchise the brawny Brit's name. The Transporter? Jason Statham. Revolver? Jason Statham 4. Crank? Jason Statham 6. The Mechanic? Jason Statham 15. I get the appeal, I do; no matter how awful Crank and High Voltage strike me, I understand the allure of mindless, hyperkinetic action. And I'll be the first to admit Hollywood's annointed action heavyweight has delivered a few standout genre pics. (The Bank Job is a great little heist flick and Death Race is a personal guilty pleasure, ridiculous as it is.) But Statham is far more effective in supporting roles. Snatch. The Italian Job. The Expendables. So where does Killer Elite fall? Don't be fooled: fledgling director Gary McKendry's debut may feature Robert De Niro and Clive Owen, but it's a lock-jawed, stone-faced Jason Statham vehicle through and through. Oh, I'm sure it will have its fans, and I'm sure its worst reviews will elicit cries of "come on, it's not that bad." But Killer Elite is a unremitting misfire that has a home on my list of the more disappointing films of 2011.
The words "based on a true story" appear rather ominously in the wake of a bloody third-world hit, but what that true story is -- or why we should care about the people or politics involved -- remains a complete mystery. Not that I'm surprised. Killer Elite is an adaptation of Sir Ranulph Fiennes' The Feather Men, a 1991 novel that's been accused of being a complete fabrication itself (a charge Fiennes hasn't made much of an effort to deny). But that's neither here nor there. True tale or no, the film's tagline is little more than a gimmick; a bit of lazy sleight of hand that inadvertently subjects the story to far more scrutiny that it's capable of withstanding. The plot is a soupy mess: in the early '80s, retired mercenary Danny Bryce (Jason Statham) travels to Oman to rescue his old partner (Robert De Niro) only to be caught up in an international assassination fiasco involving a vindictive Sheikh, three dead SAS agents, and a shady secret society. And the various mercs and gunmen are hardened spy-novel enigmas wrapped in stocky genre dialogue and rapid-cut fisticuffs.
What follows is a blur. Haphazard '90s-esque ADR, oddly truncated sequences, and (what I presume are) a string of limited takes and quick fixes leave Killer Elite battered, bruised and begging for a more experienced director. McKendry tries to channel his inner Tony Scott but lacks the confidence and seasoned style to deliver the sort of flashy high-caliber action he's aiming for. The rest of the team phone it in. Statham drums up his best Statham, grimacing and glowering like a junkyard dog who feels the years setting in. Owen is miscast as a secret society lackey with a penchant for tidying up after his bosses, crafting another chilly assassin for his IMDB page. Elsewhere, his Feather Men employers are ripped from a Bond flick (and not a good one) and prone to rattling off mission statements and serving up an embarrassing array of heavy-handed exposition. ("I'd also like it noted that we are ex-SAS. The men we protect are ex-SAS. And you, Spike, though you hate to admit it, are ex-SAS. Remember, we're business men and bankers now. What we do here is illegal. We can leave no trace of our activities. That's why we're called the Feather Men. Cause our touch... pause for dramatic emphasis... is light.") And De Niro? De Niro continues to devolve into a strange parody of himself, cranking out yet another grizzled, world-weary killer that inhales and exhales no-nonsense cool. Hunter, though, doesn't hold a candle to Ronin's Sam or The Score's Nick Wells, and logs in about as much screentime as Limitless' Carl Van Loon (i.e. not a whole lot).
The problems extend beyond poor McKendry and Elite's typecasting, though. Matt Sherring's script (or at least what makes it to the screen) fizzles, the film's shootouts and action scenes fail to work up much of a sweat, the fight choreography is fast and fierce but much too neat-n-tidy, the score drones on and on, and you can almost hear the cracked, squeaky voice of a thirteen-year-old screaming "this is the best movie ever!" Worse, there's nothing "killer" or "elite" in Killer Elite. It picks the pockets of a number of action classics, some good, some not so good, and it settles for mediocrity when it should go in for the... wait for it... kiiiiill. Still, there are a few choice assassinations, double crosses, car chases and fist-pumping dust-ups -- none of which include any pertinent dialogue -- and there's just enough meat in McKendry's 'splosive stew to lend Statham some humanity, cliche as Danny's early self-exile, prevailing turmoil and relationship with Chuck's Yvonne Strahovski may be. None of it allows the film to dodge any fatal shots, but the results also aren't so mind-numbingly bad that Redbox renters will mourn the loss of a dollar. As I said at the outset, Killer Elite is one of the more disappointing films of 2011. Not one of the worst or one of the most disappointing, mind you, but one of the more disappointing. Long story short: Statham needs to expand his repertoire, Owen needs to choose better projects, De Niro needs to reclaim his former glory, and McKendry needs a bit more time to hone his craft. Approach this one with some caution.
Killer Elite Blu-ray, Video Quality
If you're gunning for a snazzy video presentation, though, look no further. Killer Elite boasts a first-class 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that doesn't leave a single fine detail behind. Simon Duggan's stylized palette ranges from dusty to under-saturated but never strays from McKendry's intentions. Color and contrast remain striking throughout, skintones are dead on, black levels are deadly, and delineation is perfectly primed for every cloak-and-dagger shock and surprise. There's a hint of grain, and it spikes a bit here and there, but its presence suits the film well and never interferes with the array of refined, wonderfully resolved textures on display. Closeups are nothing short of stunning as well, and edge definition is razor sharp, without any disconcerting ringing or aliasing to speak of. Moreover, I didn't catch sight of any compression anomalies (artifacting, banding, crush, et al), and there isn't a hint of noise reduction. If I have any complaint it's that crush is an occasional issue, even if it rarely amounts to a distraction. Suffice it to say, Killer Elite may miss the target but its video transfer gets the job done.
Killer Elite Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Aside from the aforementioned ADR -- which is really, really terrible at times -- Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a blast. Gunfire kicks, explosions hit hard, engines roar, punches connect with meaty oomph, and Elite's already aggressive soundscape only impresses that much more with such an able-bodied lossless mix strapped to its hip. LFE output is a bit over the top, sure, but so is the film; genre junkies won't flinch for a second. The rear speakers are angry and assertive, riveting even, and make the most of every action scene, be it a silent assassination or a guns-blazing shootout. Directionality is decisive, pans are slick and smooth, and dynamics are frenzied and fiery. Dialogue is clean, clear and intelligible too; thin, tinny and cumbersome ADR notwithstanding. So enjoy, action fans. Killer Elite's AV presentation takes the film's title seriously.
Killer Elite Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Thirteen deleted scenes (HD, 10 minutes) fill in some gaps, but not with anything remotely compelling. Otherwise, the Blu-ray edition of Killer Elite is as barebones as recent theatrical releases come. It's especially strange since Universal typically throws its full weight behind a film's supplemental package. Even The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption is loaded with special features. Signs of a troubled production? A lack of studio confidence? Filmmaker disappointment? Or simply a limited budget? I'm guessing the answer will remain a mystery.
Killer Elite Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro? Killer Elite could have been so much more; should have been so much more. Instead, it wastes its A-list cast, hobbles along on a bum leg, and has to contend with everything from a generic genre script to problematic performances, stilted plotting and some dim-witted dialogue. Universal's Blu-ray release steadies its aim, though. While its 10-minute supplemental package adds insult to injury, its outstanding video transfer and excellent DTS-HD Master Audio mix more than makes up it. If only the film itself was worth the cost of admission...
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Killer Elite Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Killer Elite - January 8, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Universal Studios Home Entertainment are offering five Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win a copy of Killer Elite, starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro. Killer Elite arrives on Blu-ray on January 10th.
• Killer Elite Blu-ray - November 9, 2011
Next year, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will bring Killer Elite to Blu-ray. Inspired by a true story, the action-thriller stars Jason Statham (The Bank Job) as a retired contract killer forced back into action against a ruthless competitor (Clive Owen, ...
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