Killer Elite (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gary McKendry|
|Produced by||Michael Boughen
|Written by||Matt Sherring|
|Based on||The Feather Men
by Sir Ranulph Fiennes
Robert De Niro
|Music by||Johnny Klimek
|Editing by||John Gulbert|
|Distributed by||Open Road Films|
|Release dates||23 September 2011|
|Running time||120 minutes|
Killer Elite is a 2011 action thriller film starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Yvonne Strahovski and Dominic Purcell. The film is based on the 1991 novel The Feather Men by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and is directed by Gary McKendry.
In 1980, assassins Danny Bryce (Jason Statham), Hunter (Robert De Niro), Davies (Dominic Purcell), and Meier (Aden Young) are in Mexico to assassinate a man. Danny unwittingly kills him in front of his young child, then is injured during the getaway. Affected by this outcome, Danny retires and returns to his native Australia.
One year later in 1981, Danny is summoned to Oman where Hunter is being held captive. He meets with the agent (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who arranges missions for assassins and learns that Hunter accepted a $6 million job but failed to accomplish it. If Danny doesn't complete Hunter's mission, Hunter will be executed.
Danny is introduced to Sheikh Amr, a deposed king of a small region of Oman who wants Danny to kill three former SAS agents—Steven Harris (Lachy Hulme), Steven Cregg (Grant Bowler), and Simon McCann (Daniel Roberts)—for killing his three eldest sons during the Dhofar Rebellion. Danny must videotape their confessions and make their deaths look like accidents, and he must do it before the terminally ill Sheikh dies. This will allow the Sheikh's fourth son, Bakhait (Firass Dirani), to regain control of the desert region his father had ruled. If Danny fails, Hunter will be killed. Danny reunites with Davies and Meier. They agree to help him in exchange for a share of the money.
As Danny and Meier sneak into the house of their first target, Steven Harris, in Oman, Davies questions local bar patrons about former SAS members. This is reported to the Feathermen, a secret society of former operatives protecting their own. Their head enforcer, Spike Logan (Clive Owen), is sent to investigate.
After Harris has confessed on videotape, Danny and Meier take him to the bathroom. Their plan is to break his neck using a hammer with tiles similar to those of the bathroom floor to make it appear that Harris slipped and broke his neck. Danny is distracted by the arrival of Harris's girlfriend and when he returns to the bathroom he finds that Meier was forced to kill Harris hastily in a struggle.
Back in London, Davies discovers the second target, Steven Cregg, preparing for a long nighttime march in wintry weather at the Brecon Beacons mountain range. Davies pretends to be a civilian having car problems outside the base's fence, allowing Danny to infiltrate the base. There he drugs Cregg's coffee to induce shock and cause Cregg to die of hypothermia during the march. Danny, in uniform, follows Cregg on the march, and a delirious Cregg confesses on videotape to Danny before he dies.
Going to their last target, Simon McCann, currently a mercenary, they rig a truck to respond to remote control with the help of a new and inexperienced team member, Jake (Michael Dorman). As McCann is on his way to a fake job interview, Meier and Jake take control of the truck from another car and cause it to move in front of McCann's car, killing him. However, Logan and his men were watching over McCann. A gun fight in the docks ensues, and Meier is accidentally killed by the inexperienced Jake. Danny and Davies decide that the case is over, and they part ways. Davies is soon hit by a truck and killed while being chased by Logan's men.
Danny returns to Oman and gives the Sheikh the last taped confession, which he has faked. Hunter is released and returns to his family, while Danny heads back to Australia and reunites with Anne (Yvonne Strahovski), a childhood acquaintance. Soon, he is informed by the Agent that there is one last man who participated in the Sheikh's sons' murders and that this man, Ranulph Fiennes, is about to release a book about his experiences as a member of the SAS.
Danny tells Anne to go to France with Hunter to protect her while he carries out the last job. The Sheikh’s son confirms that Harris was an innocent man. Logan, meanwhile, traces Danny through the Agent and sends a team to protect the author, but Jake distracts them, allowing Danny to infiltrate the building and shoot the author. He chooses to only wound the author, however, but takes pictures that appear to show him dead. Logan chases and captures Danny, taking him to an abandoned warehouse, but he is interrupted when an agent from the British government arrives and reveals that the British government is behind the events because of the Sheikh's valuable oil reserves. A three-way battle ensues, with Danny escaping and Logan shooting the government agent.
In Paris, Anne goes to take the subway. The Agent and a henchman are waiting for her because the Agent plans to kidnap her for ransom. But Hunter who following her, beats the henchman and shoots in the leg of the Agent. The Agent then tries to explain that it is just for business. Hunter seems threatening at first but spares his life.
Danny and Hunter head to Oman to give the Sheikh the pictures. However, Logan arrives first and confronts the Sheikh, telling him that the pictures are fake and then stabbing him to death. The Sheikh's son does not care and gives the money, which was intended for Danny and Hunter, to Logan. Hunter spots Logan leaving, and they chase after him, along with the Sheikh's men.
After stopping the Sheikh's men, Danny and Hunter confront Logan on a desert road. Danny says that Logan can keep the money (though Hunter takes some of the money for his expenses and his family). They give Logan the remainder, telling him that he'll need it to start a new life away from the government after killing the government agent and acting against the wishes of the Feathermen and the British government. Danny says that it's over for him and that Logan must make up his own mind. They leave him there, saying they'll send a cab for him from the airport. Danny meets with Anne in France to start a new life.
- Jason Statham as assassin Danny Bryce
- Clive Owen as ex-SAS officer Spike Logan
- Yvonne Strahovski as Anne Frazier
- Robert De Niro as Hunter
- Lachy Hulme as Harris
- Dominic Purcell as Davies
- Aden Young as Meier
- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as The Agent
- Ben Mendelsohn as Martin
- Grant Bowler as Captain James Cregg
- Matthew Nable as Pennock
- Jamie McDowell as Diane
- Chris Anderson as Finn
- George Murphy as ADR Voice
- Gillie McKenzie as Shooter and stunt double
- Firass Dirani as Bakhait
- Rodney Afif as Sheikh Amr
- Andrew Stehlin as Dutchy
Filming began at Docklands Studios Melbourne in May 2010. In July 2010, Jason Statham's scenes were shot at the Brecon Beacons in Wales. Robert De Niro filmed a scene in Melbourne's Spring Street set in 1970s Paris.
Some London scenes were filmed in Cardiff—in July 2010, De Niro and Statham were seen filming outside The Promised Land Bar on Windsor Place. Other scenes shot in Cardiff were also on Windsor Place, showing the City United Reformed Church, Buffalo bar and various small business buildings. Agent's several meetings with other characters at a stone, columned monument were shot at the Welsh National War Memorial in Alexandra Gardens, Cardiff. A scene where The Welshman leaves a building were shot on Kings Road, Pontcanna, showing Kings Road Doctors' Surgery and residential buildings. Another scene was shot at The Blue Anchor Inn in East Aberthaw, Vale of Glamorgan.
In July 2010, filming took place near the Storey Arms outdoor centre, in the Brecon Beacons. A number of 1970s period cars were in evidence, particularly a bright orange Austin Maxi.
The film, which had a gala premiere at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2011, has received negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes maintains Killer Elite with a 25% rating with the consensus stating: "A rote, utterly disposable Jason Statham vehicle that just happens to have Clive Owen and Robert De Niro in it." Conversely, Roger Ebert gave it 3 stars out of 4, calling it director Gary McKendry's "impressive debut", noting he "understands that action is better when it's structured around character and plot, and doesn't rely on simple sensation." 
The Feather Men
The plot for the movie is based on the novel The Feather Men by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and is "based on a true story" (since Fiennes insists that it is true). Several elements from the book were altered to make the movie seem more believable to a movie-going audience.
- Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the book's author, claims that a secret society called the "Feather Men", made up of retired and disabled SAS members, was operating in the shadows. They are called the "feather men" because their influence and intervention were subtle, like the touch of a feather. Their job was to protect SAS personnel and their families and avenge wrongs or harm done to them.
- The hit squad in the novel was originally a communist Arab militant terror cell called 'the Clinic'. This was changed in the movie into a team of freelance assassins-for-hire controlled by an Angolan paymaster who runs a travel agency as a front.
- The targets are three SAS troopers (one who is still serving and is a decorated war hero) who served in Oman in the 1970s. Their deaths must appear accidental to avoid reprisals. In the film, an added complication is that they must confess to being murderers before they are killed.
- The patron in the novel was originally a rich Arab merchant from Dubai whose son died in combat while fighting in Oman. He is replaced in the movie with a disgraced Omani sheik dying of cancer who has to kill the men who killed his three eldest sons in order to restore his honor and return to his tribe.
- The Battle of Mirbat, a siege in which eight SAS troopers with 100 assorted Firqas under training and 30 paramilitary askars (armed police) held off a force of 250 insurgents, is mentioned in passing in the film but never explained. One of the sheik's three sons was supposed to have been killed in action there.
- In the movie, the British Foreign Office is supposed to be in collusion with the sheik in order to guarantee oil leases on the sheik's land. They even force the "feather men" to back off with threats of imprisonment. However, the wealthy sheik is in exile and his son, a westernized playboy, shows no interest in returning to his homeland to claim his title. Therefore even if the sheik's plot is successful the British government will not have gained any leverage with the actual landholders. The book has no such subplot, as the "feather men" are seen as all-powerful.
- Sir Ranulph Fiennes claims that the "feather men" saved his life from an assassination attempt by The Clinic. In the book 'The Clinic' tried to ambush him at his farmhouse in Exmoor, but the "feather men" ran them off. In the movie, he is a minor character who only survives because the assassin feels regret and only maims him.
- Swart, Sharon (2010-05-14). "Jason Statham embraces 'Killer Elite'". Variety. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- "Killer Elite". BFI. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- (2010-05-17). "De Niro confirmed in Killer Elite". EncoreMagazine.com.au. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
- "Killer Elite".
- "Jason Statham returns home to Britain to film 'Killer Elite'". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- Quinn, Karl (2010-07-07). "Hollywood comes to Paris end of town, De Niro style". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- "Our History". The Blue Anchor. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
- Evans, Ian (2011), "Killer Elite premiere photos - 36th Toronto International Film Festival", DigitalHit.com, retrieved 3 January 2012
- "Killer Elite". Chicago Sun-Times.
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- Killer Elite at the Internet Movie Database
- Killer Elite at Box Office Mojo
- Killer Elite at Rotten Tomatoes