OK – let’s be honest here.

If you head along to a film starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro, chances are you pretty much know what you are letting yourself in for, right?

And truth is anyone looking for a testosterone-fuelled pic is in for a good time, as the Killer Elite is positively dripping with macho-ness.

Now we all know Statham and Owen can handle this sort of material in their sleep, but here even De Niro joins in with the fun, proving equally as deft with the fisticuffs and shooters as the aforementioned stars.

One of those beloved ‘based on a true story’ slices of tosh, Statham and De Niro are a pair of mercenary pals who pop up in all parts of the globe to take out the world’s trash.

However, after a hit gone bad the Stath decides it’s time to call it quits, retreating to the Australian countryside to renovate an old barn.

Predictably though he is reeled back in when some shady sheikh kidnaps De Niro, holding him hostage until Statham agrees to wipe out some former SAS soldiers who were responsible for the death of three of the sheikh’s son inOman.

Soon enough Statham is putting together a team, including Dominic Purcell, to go after these SAS goons and free his mate.

This is where Owen comes in, as a battle-scarred former SAS guy who is called in to try and clean up the mess and track down Statham and co.

There is quite a nifty tale locked away in here somewhere (featuring Ranulph Fiennes no less) but the filmmakers give the audience very little time to digest matters before the next explosion rolls along.

So what we get is a film that virtually sees everybody double-crossing each other, with nobody really ‘good’ or ‘bad’, with bloody results to boot.

The action is plentiful and impressively-staged, with a real emphasis on ‘real violence’ rather than goofy kills and pithy one-liners.

That is not to say the script does not have its fair share of cliché – in fact quite a few times during the film I found myself finishing off lines of dialogue before they were uttered – sample: “Killing is easy……living with it is the hard part.”

Set in 1980 there is some nice period detail, and all the stars do exactly what you expect of them (even Owen, who is saddled with a comedy tache).

A romantic subplot involving Statham and a random Aussie bird clogs up the plot and is certainly not necessary, but at least it does break up the endless strutting and posturing that is the rest of the running time.

Played very straight the Killer Elite desperately wants to be taken seriously, but ends up proving nothing more than an entertaining diversion.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.