Danny (Statham), formerly the best assassin in the business, has retired. His conscience just won’t allow him to kill people anymore. He’s been unwillingly sucked back into the game one last time to help out his old buddy Hunter (De Niro) who’s run afoul of a revenge-seeking Omani oil baron. Danny has to track down and kill the three British agents that killed the oil baron’s sons so that Hunter can walk free again. These agents belonged to the SAS, a secret military society, and their leader Spike (Owen) is hot on Danny’s heels.

Killer Elite is apparently set in the 80s, but apart from Spike’s ridiculous moustache and one of the assassins’ Lemmy Kilmister facial hair; there’s nothing to mark it as a period flick. On second thought, there actually is this one part where said assassin blasts The Clash’s ‘I Fought the Law’ during a break into a military base no less.

Other than that, the film drags on for too long. It’s fine until Danny completes the mission but then he finds out that he still has one more guy to kill and that’s one guy too many. The film had already achieved a sense of closure and was practically wrapped up; to be told that there was more was rather jarring, especially when it was just more of the same scenes; but with higher stakes this time around.

Statham is utterly believable when he’s pounding people’s faces in and making mincemeat out of them while tied to a chair. However, in the immortal words of Hermione Granger, he has the emotional depth of a teaspoon. When he starts on how he’s giving up killing because he wants to be a better person, it’s hard to believe a single word he’s saying. In contrast, the screen practically lights up whenever De Niro’s around. Too bad he isn’t in it nearly enough. Owen was probably the only one that got the memo that this film would be painfully average. He spends his time sleepwalking through his role with a scowl etched onto his face. Funnily enough, he still conveys more emotion than Statham does.

While the oil baron, Sheikh Amr (Afif) shares the bad guy mantle with Spike, the way he’s portrayed is still rather infuriating and does nothing other than validate the stereotype that Arabs are bloodthirsty maniacs. To top it all off Sheikh Amr is a dead ringer for Bin Laden. We also have the obligatory ‘Allah’ graffiti and the call to prayer randomly playing out. In fact, the film’s portrayal of Oman is almost identical to Hollywood’s portrayal of all the other Islamic terrorist hubs be it Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc.

The fight scenes should have been the film’s saving grace. However, what we get is a lot of choppy, shaky camera work. Yes, this conveys the idea that people are getting beaten up really badly but it would have been preferable to have a clear shot of it happening. Honestly, upon seeing De Niro and Owen’s names attached to the film, this reviewer was expecting a much better product. Unfortunately, Killer Elite turned out pretty average.