Killer Elite [2011]

I have been disappointed by most of the action films I’ve watched lately. Well, Killer Elite is not in any way disappointing, it sits alongside similarly solid films like Heat [1995] or Ronin [1998] without shame. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and it does it with conviction, and without fuss or bother. It may not be innovative or daring, you may think it’s simply another generic actioner, but I want other film-makers in this genre who’ve failed to hold my attention for 2 hours to look at this film and just do what it does as a minimum.

Here are some key lessons:

  1. We don’t need our action films to be morality tales. We don’t really care whether the main character is “good”, as long as they’re short of being a psychopath.
  2. We don’t need you to explode anything larger than a car. I’m serious about that: bigger is almost never better.
  3. We don’t need you to kill the protagonist’s boy/girlfriend. Come to that, we don’t even need him to have a boy/girlfriend.
  4. We don’t need a happy ending.
  5. We need stakes we can see and understand. These don’t have to be big, just clear.
  6. We don’t need any exposition (especially not through voice-over!) – we get what the genre is about, and what the protagonist is about.
  7. It’s okay to make jokes, but remember that you’re not making a comedy.

In other words: stop trying to impress us with your budget!

Thinking about some films that haven’t worked for me recently, they all do something I don’t like. The A Team [2010], Losers [2010] and Parker [2012] have paladin-like heroes, over-sized explosions, unsuitably happy endings, and stakes that are vague at best. It shouldn’t be rocket science people.

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