Review by Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are
I have to admit when I picked Once Upon a Time in America from the list of available De Niro films I had no idea it was 229 minutes long… and I probably wouldn’t have picked it if I did. I am not a great believer in the idea that longer is better when it comes to films, because it normally isn’t and also I can’t sit still for very long because I have a short attention span. With all of that in mind, I guess the theme of this review is going to be, was it worth the time investment?
But first… a synopsis…
Review by Smash of Smashing Through Life
Wow, what a wild ride this movie is. Going into it I had some preconceived notions about what was going to happen based on numerous cultural references, most notably the episode of The Simpsons that parodied it. But I was still pleasantly surprised. Mostly by Scorsese’s pacing, it was a lot quicker than I expected, but also by De Niro’s character. The thing that struck me the most was how intelligent and balanced Max Cady was despite his warped morality and misplaced sense of justice. I was expecting a lunatic stalker, but I got something much more complex and it was immensely gratifying.
Reviewed by Kerry from Screaming Gargonauts
Killer Elite (2011)
I put the year in the title so you wouldn’t think I was going to write about the 1975 Sam Peckinpah film and get unduly excited. Nope. This is not that.
Jason Statham stars as an international super secret mercenary on a mission to free his friend and mentor, Robert DeNiro from an exiled Arab sheik. The sheik captured DeNiro as leverage to coax Statham, now retired (after nearly killing a child during a mission) to hit the men responsible for killing his sons. They contact Statham in the boondocks somewhere rebuilding his childhood home and falling for his childhood friend. Yup, that’s the premise. Never been done before. I know.
The crack team of Statham, Aden Young (Rectify), and some other guy plot to infiltrate the SAS (Elite British Navy Seal-like group) in order to discover the identities of the killers, kill them, and get DeNiro out of stir. Of course, the men they’re assigned to kill are crack British troops so not only do they avoid getting killed rather well, but also our three don’t really want to kill them.
The Killer Elite boasts an impressive cast of leads. Aside from Statham and Young, Clive Owen does his usual admirable job as the leader of a group of ex-SAS operatives bent on stopping Statham and his crew. DeNiro soars above the rest of the cast in his few scenes however. He has a terrific presence in this film and they give him a few fun bits. That’s it though. I liked seeing DeNiro in his few scenes, but I could have done without the rest of the film. As simple as the plot seems, I found it hard to follow. A lot of scenes started with ‘You know what to do.’-type dialogue. Apparently they did and felt no need to fill the audience in on any of it. The actors just tailed each other, had lots of really nasty fights, said things like ‘This guy’s a pro.’ and other cool expository things like that so we’d all know how hard this mission was and be really impressed and stuff. A sub-plot with a powerful shadow group of ex-mercenaries bent on controlling wars and oil and money and ponies (OK, not ponies) went absolutely nowhere. Statham also had a girlfriend who they feared would be killed by bad guys so DeNiro watched her for a while and we got to see him and then that was over and we had to get back to the main part of the movie which was no fun. Another sub-plot about another ex-SAS officer writing a book about the assassinations of the sheiks’ sons appeared quickly and went away just as fast.
According to imdb, this film is based on a true story and took place in 1980. This surprised me completely after seeing it so I forced myself to watch the beginning again. They do indeed state, in writing, “This is 1980.” They must have known that no one would ever guess it by watching the movie.
The Killer Elite clocked in at one hour and 56 minutes. It felt a lot longer.
Review by Joseph of The Cinema Monster
Bobby De Niro, is there anyone with a face more recognizable? How about a voice? One so memorable that it’s assisted countless lines of film dialogue into becoming the most quoted and imitated in cinematic history. This is a man who’s performances on screen have literally transcended their fictitious origins to become part of his aura, you know, his personality and reputation. You can’t mention his name without it sending a deathly chill through your bones, as if he was watching you from a far at that very moment, waiting patiently to quietly end your life. But of course, this isn’t the truth. Robert De Niro merely portrays the mafioso lifestyle and nothing more. It just so happens that he does his job so well that the killer, ruthless mentality has followed him, become entangled and melded to his existence. In all honesty though, we wouldn’t have it any other way. It merely adds to his legend and signifies the unfathomably power of his talent and how he has perfected his craft.