‘Killer Elite’ is thin on plot

"KILLER ELITE" bills itself as a true story, based on a book written by one Ranulph Twisleton-Wyckeham Fiennes.

It turns out the book ("The Feathermen") is in all probability as absurd as the author's name, and its purported account of a secret British special forces vigilante squad is utter BS.

None of this should trouble the movie's target audience, which, upon watching a chair-bound Jason Statham beat up two guys with his legs, jump out a window, free himself in midair, land safely and commandeer a vehicle, will understand that fealty to absolute truth is not a priority.

"Killer Elite" is mostly a forum for actors to express tough-guy attitude, with (often bad) dialogue or with fists. The movie has more MMA than "Warrior."

Reigning hard-ass Jason Statham is Danny, a hit man who sets out to rescue a ransomed friend (De Niro) by killing three British special forces men now retired in England.

In the course of these duties, Statham runs afoul of Clive Owen, playing a retired British soldier who heads a vigilante squad that exists to protect other retired British soldiers. I think. The movie's a little vague on plot points.

Anyway, who cares, the movie is all attitude, successfully delivered by Statham, De Niro, and Dominic Purcell, amusing as Danny's In fact, the movie develops into a kind of "Point Break" bromance between modern-day warriors - Danny acting to free his mentor, Owen's character to avenge the deaths of his comrades. At some point in their cat-and-mouse pursuit of each other, they realize they're more or less the same dude.

A pretty good cast in the service of a movie that is, almost completely, unoriginal. It takes a lot of ideas and techniques from the Bourne franchise, especially the Greengrassy way the fights scenes are covered and cut into a blurry montage.

But "Elite" fulfills its modest ambition to be a no-frills B actioner for Statham fans and those who want to see De Niro in "Ronin" mode, also known as check-cashing mode.

A scene in which De Niro gleefully takes his cut from a money stash is the one thing in "Elite" that feels vividly close to the truth.

Killer Elite

Directed by Gary McKendry. With Grant Bowler, Ben Mendelsohn, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, Michael Dorman, Dominic Purcell, Clive Owen, Aden Young, Yvonne Strahovski. Distributed by Open Road Films.

Running time: 1 hours, 40 minutes.

Parent's guide: R ().