Killer Elite comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Whilst far from bad, it’s nothing like the kind of presentation that Blu-ray fans have come to expect from recently-made, medium-budget efforts – although, to a certain extent, the retro 80s period setting allows you to forgive the video shortcomings more readily. Detail is generally reasonably good throughout; whilst far from exceptional, it does not have too much softness about it, nor any striking edge enhancement or excessive edge enhancement. There is a more than fine layer of grain pervading the piece, occasionally drifting from suitably filmic to marginally unwieldy. The colour scheme is often quite dour and restricted but that again plays to the 80s setting, as well as the British setting, with all the expected bleak skies and moody weather. There are few vivid tones on offer, and even the Middle-East sequences stay on the side of faded for the most part. Black levels are reasonably strong but nothing to write home about, although there’s no overt bleeding or blocking to complain about. Overall it’s a pretty average presentation, although perfectly decent for the material on offer.
The disc’s DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is a perfectly serviceable although, again, unexceptional, accompaniment for the movie, clearly and coherently promoting the dialogue, largely from across the frontal array, and allowing the surrounds to light up occasionally with both the more boisterous score elements and the more action-orientated effects sequences. Unfortunately the track is not all that refined, and often the smaller noises go by the wayside, although several atmospheric elements – like vehicular noises and even the desert wind – do get picked up and presented quite well. Needless to say the more gun- and explosive-biased set-pieces are the ones that truly stand out, although, again, certainly not in a way that would compare to any of this film’s action counterparts. Besides, there really aren’t all that many bombastic segments to talk about in any event. With a little LFE rumbling around the edges, this is a reasonably acceptable, perfectly-suitable-for-the-material offering which still manages to disappoint in terms of the media’s capability.
This UK release comes with a bunch of pretty throwaway extra features which, rather oddly, don’t include the deleted/extended scenes which the upcoming US release is supposed to have...
The 24-minute Featurette is very fluffy, with lots of promo clips (and standard exposition into the plot) from the main feature, but there are some nice comments from the filmmaking crew, including the director, writer, producers, and main cast, who note the dubious ‘factuality’ of the story; Clive Owen discusses the script and action, we get behind the scenes clips of the shoot, people messing about on set, and choreography of fight scenes and stunt sequences. They take us through story, characters, locations, stunts and the end result, and this featurette too often drifts into promo territory to ever be considered either comprehensive or satisfying.
There is also a separate two-and-a-half minute very brief Interview with Statham, who talks about his character, working with the other actors (including De Niro), the first-time director, the action and the story. This terribly disjointed edit also clearly catches Statham on a bad day – a day where he seems to think this is a great film that he has been working on!
The disc is rounded off by the movie’s trailer.
If you want to see Robert De Niro, kicking ass, shooting people and stealing scenes in a straight action-thriller – for the first time in over a decade – then Killer Elite delivers... up to a point. Almost everything else about it is lame and ineffectual, handicapped by its own mishandling of the source material upon which it was based – a purportedly true story of mercenaries, assassinations and a league of ex-SAS soldiers with a shady agenda – and poorly delivered by the debut director and debut screenwriter, who really should not have been handed the keys to this brimming-with-potential project. As an outright Statham action-vehicle there is simply not enough action, and his lead character is near-impossible to get behind given the heinous acts that he carries out on innocent people; as a cleverer-than-average action-thriller, the more intelligent plotting and character development is similarly derailed by ineffective twists and inexcusable plot holes. Both Statham and the generally reliable Clive Owen do not appear to have a clue as to which one of them is playing the good guy, nor which is supposed to be bad – and audiences will similarly be confused; this kind of confusion may work in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but, despite the 80s period setting, this is not the thuggish cousin of that thinking-man’s spy thriller. No, Killer Elite is a fatally flawed action thriller with brief moments of standout action, some clever individual scenes, a couple of unexpected plot twists, and a generally cool contribution from Robert De Niro (the first in years).
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray we get average video and audio, as well as a fluffy, throwaway set of extras that appears to omit some of those listed on the upcoming US release. If you’re drawn by the cast, and enjoy your actioners, then this is far from a bad rental, but I’d definitely recommend checking it out before committing it to your collection.
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