Killer Elite: Rated “PG-13“ (111 Minutes)
Starring: Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, Clive Owen, Yvonne Strahovski, Dominic Purcell
Directed by: Gary McKendry
The film — based on the 1991 controversial novel The Feather Men by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, has nothing to do with either the 1975 film The Killer Elite, or the book on which it was based (Robert Rostand’s novel Monkey in the Middle). In this version (supposed ba on a true story involving Britain’s SAS), a pair of mercenaries roam the globe from Australia to Paris, London and the Middle East as they hunt down a number of the SAS officers who supposedly killed the sons of an Arab Sheik during the Oman War ( 1957-59).
According to the story, a pair of ex-Special Forces soldiers (Statham and De Niro) was involved in a n operation that went south, causing Danny (Statham) to quit this type of work. A year later, he is contacted by an Arab Sheik who has his friend Hunter (De Niro) captive. The Sheik will trade Hunter for the death of the four SAS officers who he claims killed his sons during the Oman War. At first Danny refuses, but then realizes that the only way to save his friend’s life is to take the job, which he reluctantly does.
Assembling a small team Danny hunts down the SAS men “responsible” for the deaths of the Sheik’s sons. Meanwhile ex-SAS officer, Spike (Owen) seeks to protect his brothers in arms and stop Danny’s team from completing their assignment. As the two team hop around the globe playing their cat-and-mouse game we can see how dedicated Spike is, and how conflicted Danny is as they each play out their respective roles.
The film is interesting and exciting, but as to the relative truth of the underlying story, there’s rub, as Fiennes himself recently made the following statement to The Daily Mail via his present publisher, Hodder & Stoughton
“The Feather Men is an amalgam of fact and fiction,” he said.
“Before it was published in 1991, I sent copies of the manuscript to people named in the book then alive and to the next of kin of the deceased, including Major Mike Kealy’s wife and mother.
“I also sent it to the SAS. All concerned approved the final manuscript. The film being made of the book under the title of The Killer Elite is pure fiction.”
Still, as a work of fiction, this is both entertaining and thrilling, and should be caught in the theater.
Robert J. Sodaro has been writing professionally for over 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous publications, as well as on the web.