I wish I was alive during the 1980s. Each year there were movies starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, et al. Let's be honest, we don't really have an action star these days. Now we have action movies that star an actor who goes, "hey, this might be fun." The exception to this rule- Jason Statham. He is British I believe, but he is probably the closest thing English-language cinema has to a bonafide action star. That being said, his movies do somewhat vary in style (more on part of the director than of the performance). For example, I actually really dug The Mechanic. It was a solid "turn-off-your-brain" action movie that I just surrendered to. I got to see a badass, who I'd imagine if given heavier material could totally act the part, interact with an incredible up-and-coming actor named Ben Foster. I was hoping Killer Elite would measure up to that (with Clive Owen and Robert De Niro replacing the presence of Ben Foster twice over), but this isn't on the positive side of my murkily defined "Statham-spectrum".
Set in 1981, Statham plays a hitman whose mentor (De Niro) is held captive until Statham's character can complete a job that involves him killing several members of SAS. This attracts the attention of Owen's character whose job is to be sure that the highest ranking agents of the SAS are protected as they move on in life after a shadowy career. I'll start off by saying that the marketing for this movie is incredibly misleading in a sense. The film isn't crazy no-holds barred action and was surprisingly dialogue heavy compared to what I expected. It kind of goes against its own grain. The film feels like a slow-burn thriller and then all of a sudden Statham and Owen are having an outrageous martial arts fight. The trailer made it look more like The Mechanic, but it might even be closer to what the trailer for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy promises (I mean the tone/mood of the piece, not the expected quality).
This actually makes the fact that this is based on "true events" have more credibility just because of how un-outrageous some of the plot can feel. Then again, cue some crazy shootout/fight that feels like your usual summer-movie adrenaline rush. The plotting is just very muddled and over-bearing. The film feels way too long. There is in fact so much plot in this movie that it feels like there could be five moments towards the end of the movie where you expect the screen to go black. I'm not even exaggerating, I believe I counted five. Don't get me wrong, the chief problem is that you obviously won't care much for any of these characters (Statham's character, Danny, starts to get some sympathy because of his girlfriend played by the gorgeous Yvonne Strahovski). Hell, I don't even care if I were to end up siding with Statham or Owen at the end of the day.
A disappointment, but I'm still speaking on my "Statham-spectrum." So, be sure to find your own litmus test for his movies before you start to take anything I say all that seriously. I might even start talking about Statham like he's a sub-genre.