ⓘ Killer Elite (film)

Killer Elite (film)

ⓘ Killer Elite (film)

Killer Elite is a 2011 action thriller film starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro. The film is based on the 1991 novel The Feather Men by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and is directed by Gary McKendry.


1. Plot

In 1980, mercenaries Danny Bryce Jason Statham, Hunter Robert De Niro, Davies Dominic Purcell, and Meier Aden Young are in Mexico to assassinate a man. Danny is shot when he becomes distracted after realizing he has killed the man in front of the targets young child. Affected by this, Danny retires and returns to his native Australia.

The following year, Danny is summoned to Oman to meet The Agent Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. He learns that Hunter failed a $6 million job. If Danny does not complete Hunters mission, Hunter will be executed. Sheikh Amr, a deposed king of a small region of Oman, wants Danny to kill three former SAS troopers - 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, all before the terminally ill sheikh dies. This will allow the sheikhs fourth son, Bakhait Firass Dirani, to regain control of his fathers desert region. Davies and Meier agree to help Danny for a share of the money.

Danny and Meier sneak into Harriss house. After Harris confesses on videotape, they take him to the bathroom, intending to make it look like he slipped and hit his head. However, Harriss girlfriend knocks on the door. While Danny and Meier are distracted, Harris attempts to break free, causing Meier to shoot him.

In England, Davies questions bar patrons about former SAS members. This is reported to the Feather Men, a secret society of former operatives protecting their own. Their head enforcer, Spike Logan Clive Owen, is sent to investigate.

Davies discovers Cregg preparing for a long nighttime march in wintry weather on the Brecon Beacons mountain range. Danny infiltrates the base, disguised in uniform, and drugs Creggs coffee. Danny follows Cregg on the march and makes him confess before the drug sends him into shock to die of hypothermia.

For their last target, their plan is to crash a remote-controlled truck into McCanns car. With the help of the inexperienced Jake Michael Dorman, Meier kills McCann; however, Logan and his men were watching over McCann. A gunfight ensues, and Jake accidentally kills Meier. Danny and Davies part ways. Davies is tracked down by Logans men, and is hit by a truck and killed while trying to escape.

Danny returns to Oman and gives the sheikh the last confession, which he has faked. Hunter is released, 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 sheikhs sons murders and that this man, Ranulph Fiennes, is about to release a book about his experiences in the SAS.

Danny sends Anne to France so Hunter can protect her. The sheikh’s son confirms that Harris was innocent. Logan, meanwhile, traces Danny through the Agent and sends a team to protect the author, but Jake distracts them, allowing Danny to shoot Fiennes. He only wounds the man, however, taking pictures that appear to show him dead. Logan captures Danny, taking him to an abandoned warehouse, but then a government agent arrives and reveals that the British government is behind the events because of the sheikhs valuable oil reserves. A three-way battle ensues, with Danny escaping and Logan shooting the government agent.

In Paris, the Agent tries to kidnap Anne for ransom, but Hunter beats the henchman and shoots the Agent in the leg. 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, tells the sheikh the pictures are fake and then stabs him to death. The sheikhs son does not care; he gives Logan the money. Hunter spots Logan leaving, and they chase after him, along with the sheikhs men.

After stopping the sheikhs men, Danny and Hunter confront Logan on a desert road. Hunter takes some of the money for his expenses and his family. They leave the remainder, telling Logan that he will need it to start a new life after killing the government agent and acting against the wishes of the Feather Men and the British government. Danny says that it is over for him and that Logan must make up his own mind what to do. Danny reunites with Anne.


2. Production

The Internet Movie Database cites a number of locations used for filming. Filming began at Docklands Studios Melbourne in May 2010. In July 2010, Jason Stathams scenes were shot at the Brecon Beacons in Wales. Robert De Niro filmed a scene in Melbournes Spring Street set in 1970s Paris. The scene of McCanns death by tanker truck was filmed on Dynon Road, Melbourne. The final scene was filmed on Little Collins Street in Melbourne.

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. Agents 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 was 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.


3. Reception

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 McKendrys "impressive debut", noting he "understands that action is better when its structured around character and plot, and doesnt rely on simple sensation."


Despite the negative reviews, Killer Elite was nominated for Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects at the 2nd AACTA Awards.


4. The Feather Men

The plot for the movie is based on the novel The Feather Men by Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Several elements from the book were altered to make the movie seem more believable to a movie-going audience.

  • Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the books 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. It is also an allusion to the three feathers of British Army regiments. Their job was to protect SAS personnel and their families and avenge wrongs or harm done to them.
  • 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. In fact, in the movie Fiennes inclusion in the death list is an afterthought by the patron because Fiennes falsely claims in a tell-all book that he was at Mirbat.
  • In the movie, the British Foreign Office is supposed to be in collusion with the sheik in order to guarantee oil leases on the sheiks 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 sheiks plot is successful, the British government will not have gained any leverage with the original landholders and probably have a current relationship with the usurper who replaced him. The book has no such subplot.
  • The Battle of Mirbat, a siege in which nine 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 sheiks three sons was supposed to have been killed in action there.
  • 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 mastermind behind the plot was changed from a Soviet-trained terrorist group called The Clinic to an Omani sheik who is inexplicably sent into exile after his three eldest sons die on jihad. The sheik hires a group of highly skilled Western mercenaries, gives them a limitless budget, and holds one of their friends as a hostage so that they will complete the task he sets for them.

The military adviser for the movie was Iain D Townsley, a former member of a Sabre Squadron 22 SAS. Iain had served 25 years in the British Army, 18 of those years with 22 SAS. Iain was at that time living in Victoria Australia, and by chance was introduced to the director Gary McKendry who offered him the job. Iain maintained that "its a good story, but not a true story".

  • Battle of Mirbat
  • The Feather Men, a 1991 novel.

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