The Killer Elite (1975) - Action, Crime, Thriller

Hohum Score



Mike Locke, who works for a private security firm affiliated with the C.I.A., is betrayed by his partner and left apparently crippled for life.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: James Caan, Robert Duvall
Length: 122 Minutes
PG Rating: PG
Reviews: 13 out of 52 found boring (25%)

One-line Reviews (41)

I give this confusing tale of mayhem and treachery some bonus points because Sam Pekinpah was able to make it at all.

Still, better than so many other pretentious attempts.

Peckinpah stages several bang-up action set pieces with his customary stylistic flair: a failed hit at an airport, a wild shoot-out and subsequent car chase on the streets of San Francisco, and the exciting climax at an empty ships' graveyard.

He is later joined by several other cardboard cut-outs, and we are treated to something that I thought was literally impossible, a boring car chase.

The early character development is good, the dialog and accents are all pretty enjoyable on the ears, the camaraderie between the mercenaries is fun to watch (you don't see chemistry like this in action movies anymore!

This Peckinpah thriller is poorly plotted, sometimes confusing and generally doesn't hit the mark.

I liked it, but at the same time I couldn't help but feel disappointed in this raw, explosive old-fashion action thriller with an exciting cast.

THE KILLER ELITE runs just over two-hours and sadly most of this time the viewer is just bored and wishing it would end.

Entertaining and fairly gritty look at the real life undercover spooks who do the CIA's dirty work or sometimes are bought by the highest bidder.

But more often than not what one gets is convoluted plot, meandering flabby narrative (it goes on way too long during Caan's rehabilitation and then later during the nocturnal wharf standoff before the end) and empty macho posturing.

" Bo Hopkins answers with an insane smile: "Everything is lethal" Even editing of the final showdown is slower then usual for Peckinpah.

This is pretty typical of those who are hooked into music videos and video games that have no plot, no character development, are finished quickly, and exist only for immediate gratification of the need for an adrenaline rush, like one minute carnival rides.

He really makes it fascinating.

But the movie is good only in parts, and is way too long.

The most disappointing thing is that the director was given a pretty strong cast to work with but in the end the story is just too weak and moves way too slow to be very entertaining.

The editing is a mess, the plot is banal B-movie material.

On top of that there are some highly unlikely and to be frank totally uninteresting elements in the story which makes this movie an at times uneven one to watch.

The first operation, Hansen's initial betrayal (which occurs in a world of surveillance that anticipates The Osterman Weekend, 1983), and the mechanics of Locken's physical reconstruction are, by turn, engrossing.

It's violent, suspenseful and full of a lot of great set pieces (front and center is an ambush on the tarmac of an airport as a visiting bigwig is nearly assassinated).

) and the action scenes -- as expected of Peckinpah -- are intense and well thought-out.

The martial arts sequences are admittedly not as good as his shootouts, but Peckinpah's use of slow potion and montage during those scenes is interesting none-the-less.

When you get the chance, it's worth watching though.

Still "The Killer Elite" is an enjoyable '70's flick.

Then there's the unpredictable Hopkins.

The film also suffers from disjointed editing, particularly the scene with the two heads of the company going over papers while one of them is bidding his time to make an important phone call (if you watch the film, you'll know it when you see it).

The "Killer Elite" is too long, too slow, and in many moments just plain ridiculous.

Their scene's together were highly enjoyable and great to watch.

Locken and Hansen, friends as well as colleagues, are then tasked with protecting a defector, but things take an unexpected turn when Hansen, who has been bought out by a rival group, executes their ward and then turns his gun on Locken, shooting him in the arm and leg.

It's full of color and action, San Francisco offers some stunning locations, and if the story isn't very original, I don't know that anyone else would have made it quite this way.

Every time I bring over a 70s flick, like this one, she complains that it's too slow and boring.

Ultimately, it goes on far too long.

The snake-like disdain in his eyes is wildly intense.

It was hard just making sense of what was transpiring, that in the end all you could do is marvel at the dazzling parade of fashionable violence done in slow-motion that was orchestrated in some stunning set-pieces like the climatic standoff in a battleship graveyard featuring ninjas(?!


Compared to pretentious, noisy garbage like THE ROCK, or incompetent failures like THE CONTRACT, or any movie with Steven Seagal or the word Rambo in the title, this is hugely satisfying entertainment.

Extremely effective and intense.

Peckinpah found delineating the mending processes so engrossing that the belated introduction of Negato Toku (Tak Kubota) as "Godfather of all the ninja assassins," and then Locken's fortuitous assignment to protect Yuen Cheung (Mako) against death within the USA are like dramatic afterthoughts, tellingly summarised in conversation over the airport fight.

Easygoing freelance special agent Mike Locken (an excellent and engaging performance by James Caan) gets severely wounded in both his knee and elbow after being double-crossed by his tough and shifty longtime friend and partner George Hansen (a typically fine Robert Duvall).

Even self-parodying of the great scene from Wild Bunch (rifles on the roof) only reveals boredom and lack of new ideas.

I found the final confrontation at the end long and drawn out with its slo-mo fight sequences.

Critically wounded, Locken is rushed to hospital and undergoes emergency surgery followed by months of intensive physiotherapy.