In theory, it is good to see Robert De Niro in a more seriously kickass mode than we have been used to seeing him in as of late. In reality, it is too bad it is in such a mediocre film as Killer Elite. Actually, De Niro (still being wasted, even in kickass mode) plays supporting tough guy to the mano y mano battle royale that is lockjawed Jason Statham versus mustachioed Clive Owen.
Based on actual events (or at least events that one writer claims are actual, though no confirmation is possible), this is a movie that tries to evoke the feeling of a 1980's action flick (this action happens to take place in 1980 and 81), much in the same way The Expendables, also starring the punch drunk Statham, did last year (perhaps reminiscent of Cannon Films - remember them?), but even though that film is as big a failure as this one, the one thing it did have going for it was its feeling of a nostalgic action homage - something Killer Elite, nor its first-time director Gary McKendry, nor its cast of tough guys, does not even come close to accomplishing here. Of course with Stallone, Willis, Rourke, Lundgren and Schwarzenegger in that film's cast, how could it not be such? But I digress.
Actually the main problem with McKendry's movie is its lack of true adventure. Sure, it has its share of shoot-em-ups and car chases (the appropriate amount of each for genre purposes), and it has some rather bare-knuckled fisticuffs between Statham and Owen (and surprisingly, Owen holds his own against Statham the walking muscle), but the fun, kicky action of those aforementioned 1980's flicks, cheesebally as they may very well be, is simply missing here. Too bad too, because De Niro is back in classic kickass mode. [09/30/11]