Killer Elite (15) **
Directed by: Gary McKendry
Starring: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro
Rather unsympathetically thrown out against the Cannes-certified Drive is this ploddingly retrograde Jason Statham headsmasher: nothing to do with Sam Peckinpah’s 1975 film, but a cobbling together of Ranulph Fiennes’ 1980s-set tome “The Feather Men” with countless Andy McNabisms. From what can be discerned from ex-P.E. teacher Matt Sherring’s gibberish screenplay, gun-for-hire Statham must spring his kidnapped mentor (De Niro, coasting) by undertaking a series of hits in locations ranging from Oman to the Brecon Beacons. Tailing him is one-eyed ne’er-do-well Owen, whose banker bosses sit in darkened suites sipping tea, just so we can tell they’re evil.
Presumably the pitch was something Bourne-like, but it becomes apparent no-one – not debutant director McKendry, not even the over-qualified cast, clinging grimly to ill-fitting accents and facial hair – really knew what they were doing here. Statham proves reliably terse, whether moonlighting as a doctor or, ahem, a military historian, yet with plausibility off the agenda, everybody else lowers their game. The dialogue’s awful, the action – think dual carriageways and Triumph Dolomites – frankly clapped out, and the whole so drab-looking as to make Tinker Tailor… resemble the average episode of ZingZillas. Less killer, more filler.Killer Elite is in cinemas nationwide.