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Dissecting Trailers: “Killer Elite”

This morning in IMDb, I viddied the trailer for the new action movie Killer Elite. Despite the name and general spy theme, it apparently has nothing to do with the 1975 Sam Peckinpah movie The Killer Elite, which is fine because that wasn’t a great movie anyway. I love action movies, even a lot of stupid ones if they’re done well enough. I can’t tell if this one’s going to be stupid, awesome, or stupidly awesome, but this minute-forty trailer has to be one of the best executed previews I’ve ever seen. It tells you exactly what you need to know about this movie. Let’s dissect it, shall we?

First, watch the trailer.

Awesome, right? Here’s why:

0:10 – Jason Statham’s in it! Already we know this movie’s going to have ridiculous action. Statham has made a name for himself as the go-to B+ grade action star in movies like The Transporter, Transporter 2, Crank, War, Death Race, Transporter 3, Crank: High Voltage, The Expendables, and The Mechanic.

0:11 – Clive Owen’s in it too! Clive Owen’s the Jason Statham of movies where he doesn’t have to do as much fighting. He’s the guy you go to if you want a kind of mysterious British guy to run around with a gun and pretend he knows what the plot of the movie is about (The International anyone?)


0:15 – The two tough guys have a bravado stare down. Jason Statham says something and laughs about it. I’ve listened to the trailer six times now. I have no idea what he says, but apparently it’s British for “I’m better than you, jerk.” Clive is the bad guy, and we know this because he has a really stupid little mustache.

~0:20 – Statham somehow escapes and kicks Owen a few times despite being tied to a frigging CHAIR. Then he dives out of what looks to be a second or third story window. I don’t think that would be my first thought ever. Then Owen shoots at him as he tumbles out the window. He must know something we don’t, like Statham is impervious to falling.

Next is my favorite part…

0:28 – BASED ON A TRUE STORY!!!! What??? Even if this is based on a true story, there is no way to make it less believable than casting Jason Statham AND just showing him do a flip onto a guy while tied to a chair and jumping out the window. They’ve got me already.

~0:30 – This is going to be a cat-and-mouse story with Statham and Owen trying to outdo each other, as evidenced by the chatting on the phone. Two tough guys trying to kill each other; this is going to be like Heat but without Robert DeNiro.

0:36 – Robert De Niro’s in it too!!! Mr. Eko from Lost tells JaSta that his mentor (like a father to him) is kidnapped and if he doesn’t do “this,” Bobby D is a dead man. “This” is surely the bad thing Owen wants Statham to do, so we know there’s some kind of mission involved. We also know what De Niro meant to Statham because of black & white shots of them hugging. They really love each other.

0:40-0:50 – De Niro does the typical thing where he tells Owen that he’s a dead man because “Danny’s coming,” which is intercut with shots of Danny coming… eww, I didn’t realize what I said.  I’m so sorry. I like that De Niro has made a career now out of being Robert De Niro. He’s been doing this for awhile, but he’s finally caught up to Christopher Walken, where any time he’s in a movie, people immediately laugh just because he is who he is.

0:50-1:05 – The tagline “This Fall May The Best Killer Win,” is chopped up and crosscut with quick shots of all three tough guys kicking the crap out of people, driving cars real fast, shooting guns, choking people. What I love is there’s a shot in there of Robert De Niro taking a fighting stance. This will probably be the first time he’s taken such a stance since Raging Bull. Dude’s pushing 70! Are they going to make him roundhouse kick somebody?

So here we are, only 35 seconds left in the trailer and it’s been nothing but badass dudes being badass. No women at all…

1:07 – YVONNE STRAHOVSKI!! The makers of this trailer held the trump card until the end! Not only is there a hot chick in this movie, but it’s a hot chick who’s already got nerd cred out the Yin-Yang. It must be in Jason Statham’s contract that he always have a hot blonde to make out with in movies. It’s not a bad stipulation.

1:10-1:25 – Various disconnected shots of each of the three guys doing cool things like running from explosions, shooting people, breaking glass, elbowing people in the throat, touching Yvonne Strahovski’s butt, and jumping over things. While this is happening, a weird orchestral remix of The Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane” plays over it. Great song; Doesn’t make sense here. Everything looks cold and frozen. What does that have to do with hurricanes? But this is a throwback to the action movies of yore so they needed a rock song to play up that aspect.

1:25-1:30 – Music cuts out. Now we know, if we didn’t figure it out already, that De Niro is not only the mentor but the comic relief too, with a hilarious little bit about him needing to get his watch back from the dead guard. Oh, Bobby.

1:30-1:35 – Clips of what will probably be the centerpiece of the whole film: a knock down, drag-out between Statham and Owen in what looks like a medical supply storage room. Everything’s metal in the entire room. Must be boiling hot and/or freezing in there.

And finally….

1:36 – Dick punch!!!!

That’s the way to end a fuckin’ trailer! The trailer conveyed almost nothing about the plot, but it absolutely didn’t matter. It checked all the action movie boxes. For those like me who enjoy turning their brain off for 80-100 minutes (if it’s any longer than that, they’re just trying too hard) Killer Elite looks like the perfect way to do that. It surely will be ridiculous, but I’ll be there. Will you?

-Kanderson does not condone fighting, but he does condone following him on TWITTER

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