Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

22 July 2008

The Killer Elite, dir. Sam Peckinpah (1975)

NIKKI says:
A few years ago, Steve and I went on this '70s movie kick where we caught up on all the classic '70s movies we'd either not seen or not seen in a really long time. We discovered some brilliant stuff. The Killer Elite would have fit that period perfectly, and may have have come out looking a bit better then -- with our minds and hearts drenched in '70s-ness -- than it did tonight.

I didn't dislike the film, but I felt it was a bit of a mess, unsure of exactly the story it was trying to tell. I don't know if it was a revenge film, an investigation into CIA off-shoot groups, or the story of a man getting back on his feet after intense physical rehabilitation. It may have been all of these things, but issues were raised and dropped throughout as the film moved from one almost-plot to the next.

The film opens on elite agents Caan and Duvall at a party. They go on their way to a stakeout point, and are the best of friends. We ascertained that either one was to die, or betray the other. Steve noted that as big names, death wasn't likely. And so one betrayed the other. Caan gets shot in the knee and the elbow and is left, in the movie's words, "a cripple".

So a great chuck of the movie is then spent on Caan's rehabilitation. There was very little conflict during these scenes. He simply took it like a man and did his stretches. I wonder to what end did we need to see this? Establishment that he was taking it like a man may have taken one scene and a montage. Here we got scenes after scene of hospital bed, walking up steps, walking over bridges, falling down in restaurants... But no outwards intensity seemed to build.

And then he's just back in action, and gets himself a job that will see him go head to head with Duvall. And then it all plays out just as you might expect -- shoot-shoot-chase-chase-someone-ends-up-dead. But to what end? What was my purpose here? To see Caan exact revenge? If so, it wasn't nearly as satisfying as I had hoped. Was it so gain a greater understanding of these off-shoot groups, as suggested by the written introduction to the film? Well, I didn't really gain much knowledge at all, expect that such groups exist and are rather corrupt.

This isn't to say the film wasn't entertaining. Peckinpah's direction was intense at times, and the actors were reliable. But, it didn't shoot fireworks off for me the way The Parallax View did, or The Conversation, or even Peckinpah's Straw Dogs. Feels like a miss to me.


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