This weekend was pretty busy for me, and it was a shame that Sunday was spent by me lying down, having a nasty headache. Don’t know where it came from, but looking back at the two movies I watched, I think I have a pretty good idea.
On Friday, I saw Killer Elite. An action movies that claims to be based on a “true story”, but really, it’s based on a non-fiction, unconfirmed, denied-by-the-government novel. The movie is with Jason Statham and Robert Deniro as two professional assassins and Clive Owen as an ex SAS agent.
The story is about Statham retiring from the professional assassin market and moving to Australia, then being blackmailed to accept a job where he has to kill three sas agents as someone else’s revenge to restore honour to his family. The story gets more outrageous when there’s swerves, traitors and other twists.
The movie has some good car chases, fighting and action scenes, and it picked up near the end, but the story in hindsight was pretty uneventful. The movie suffers from what I like to call “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels syndrome” (Also known as Pikey complex, if you saw Snatch as well), where there are several scenes where you don’t know what’s going on, because you can’t understand a word that’s coming out of anyone’s mouth, whether it’s because of their accents, or because they are talking too fast.
The three main stars did the best they can, although I fear that they are turning their careers into type casts, including Statham, and especially Clive Owen. They are good actors that can’t expand from the role of rugged action guys. DeNiro was a delight to see later in the movie, but nothing to rush out to see in theatres.
The next movie in question is the Debt, a drama with a bit of action, as opposed to the other, which was an action film with a bit of drama. The film is a remake of a 2007 movie from Israel never released in North America.
This one stars Helen Mirren, and when I mean star, I mean she has top billing. She wasn’t in half the movie. It also stars Tom Wilkinson and Sam Worthington, in more of the movie than Mirren.
The movie revolves around an event in the mid-sixties, where three agents of some foreign organization (Played my Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas) planned to capture a Nazi war criminal out of East Berlin. The flashback shows what really happened, as we get a present look of what was told that was happened by Mirren and Wilkinson, as their daughter releases a book about the incident. Things get more complicated when a love triangle happens, and things get out of hand.
The story get more and more predictable as the movie continues, and even when you get closer to the end, which was also a letdown, you know exactly what happens before the movie tells you. It ruins a movie when you call it before you see it.
The biggest fault of the movie is the acting, on all accounts. The veteran actors didn’t have the motivation to give powerful performances, and the young actors seemed to inexperienced to present powerful performances. Mirren puts out an effort, like she always does, and that should be respected, but everyone else phoned it in to the point where the charcters portrayed suffer. Everyone’s accents are all over the place, with Worthington being the biggest violator. I still don’t know what nationality he was supposed to be. Csokas was also odd, that I swear he could place first or second in the Raul Julia look alike and sound alike contest.
The premise is not too bad, but quite frankly, I am under the assumption that the original movie was better executed. It makes you question why they are remaking a movie from 2007 instead of releasing this to North America with subtitles.
Both movies used the tactic of banning tripods with their camera work, with Killer Elite wanting to break out the shakeycam on some occurrences. I find that this is lazy when movies do this, and should really stop using this type of camera work altogether. It’s cliche and boring for movies to do this, and doesn’t help trying to create an immerse atmosphere.
If I had to choose one over the other, I would reluctantly choose Killer Elite over the Debt. At least there are some good action scenes to block out the “wait, how the hell does that work” moments. I wouldn’t recommend either movie to watch for a second time. It’s worth seeing at least once each, but not in theatres. The quality of the movies doesn’t merit paying full price to see. All the actors in both movies have done far better movies than this, so watch those instead.