Killer Elite (2011) – Jason Statham Delivers a Nutshot to Logic

Synopsis: When his mentor (Robert De Niro) is taken captive, a retired mercenary and assassin (Jason Statham) is forced into action. His mission: kill three ex-SAS soldiers accused by a disgraced dying Sheikh of killing his sons.

My Take

10 minutes into this movie I was able to utter a line to my wife that made me a) very happy and b) summed up the entire tone of this movie; “I think I’m about to see Jason Statham kill someone with a sandwich”. OH YEAH!!! This was a true Jason Statham movie. 0% logic. 100% Jason Statham punching dudes in the figs.


I love Jason Statham. Not because his films are masterpieces. Not because he is a great actor (his facial expression range makes Mark Whalberg look like Leonardo DiCaprio) or even that he’s such a bad actor he’s kitsch. No, I love him because he knows the limits of his talents, what his fans like and how to deliver a “Statham” movie. He knows his niche and he is comfortable there. It makes his movie by their nature incredibly hit and miss. The Transporter series is awesome. Killer Elite, on the other hand is not. It is, unfortunately, cripplingly dull.

“Based on a true story” Killer Elite is set in 1980/81 across the UK, Middle East and Australia and sees Statham as an ex-SAS turned mercenary pulled into to do one last job to save the life of his mentor. The task? Kill 3 SAS soldiers who were involved in the death of an Arab Sheik’s three sons. There was some other stuff going on with double crossing MI6 agents and a dodgy travel agent(??). If I sound vague it’s because I literally stopped caring about 25 minutes in and although I did my utmost to remain engaged I just couldn’t do it.

Killer Elite was based on Ranulph Fiennes’s book The Feather Men, which details an incredibly fascinating story of two secret organisations working for and against ex and serving SAS personnel. He is featured in the film as a minor character and his publishing of the book acts as a catalyst for some of the later action. But I was more interested in reading the Wikipedia page about the book than watching the movie about the book. That should tell you a lot.

The one thing the movie was not big on was explaining anything. Now, I don’t need spoon-feeding  I hate unnecessary exposition. I am pretty good at filling in the blanks. But there was a huge amount of things like them standing around in a warehouse deciding they need insulin and then the next scene Statham rocking around a hospital in a doctors coat helping himself. No idea how he got there or just swanned past everyone with no questions. There was a shit load of that sort of jumping around. One minute they are having a discussion in a pub in Wales, then they are in Oman briefly, then back in Wales before you know it. Dumb.

Jason Statham can get away with this stuff. The same can’t be said of his co-stars. The presence of Clive Owen and Robert De Niro, was both surprising and kind of depressing. I know his career has been a little off of late but surely Bobby D can’t have needed the money enough to do this dumb cameo? Based on the filming locations he figured there were worse things to do at his time in life than to get paid handsomely to go on holiday and occasionally act. Clive Owen is better than this though. His career seems to have skidded a little as well after a really quality string of movies in the early to mid 2000’s. He needs to be careful he doesn’t follow De Niro into worse and worse roles for the paychecks. Watching this just made me want to go and watch Children of Men again……….God I love that movie.

Conclusion: Dumb and not in the fun way. Maybe I didn’t give it the attention it deserved but then I always figure if I am not engaged in a Jason Statham movie then it’s not trying hard enough. You do get to see The Stath deliver a couple of quality nutshots though. So there’s always that going for it…

Verdict: 3/10 – Avoid


Director: Gary McKendry – Did one short movie in 2004 and then got a $60m budget to make this. I guess maybe did music videos or commercials before.

Writer: Matt Sherring – only thing of note

Cast: Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, Clive Owen, Dominic Purcell


Currently streaming on Netflix and LoveFilm


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