The idea of this movie had such promise: 3 big Hollywood stars and international intrigue in the Sultanate of Oman, Britain and France. Wow! It seemed to sell itself so easily. Now it was just a matter of watching this sure-to-be-masterpiece at the movie theatre. The problem was that this potential proved itself to be a short-lived fantasy less than halfway through my popcorn box! The 4 major let-downs of the movie are:
1) The Acting: I know Jason Stratham is “a big name” in Hollywood but I’ve never enjoyed anything he’s been in. He seems to be an action hero for today’s mindless audience that love violence, blood, car chases and a few explosions thrown in for good measure which is exactly what we got in this film. “Well, at least Robert de Niro is in it”, I thought. I used to enjoy a lot of his movies but it seems like everything he’s been in during the past few years has been nothing but disappointment. (Like the horrible movie “What Just Happened?” which was exactly how my wife and I felt on leaving the theatre after that crash!) I was hoping this would be a major comeback to his more impressive earlier acting career. It wasn’t. Clive Owen, which the killer-elite website suggests is the world’s newest Bogart or Sean Connery (whatever!), always plays the same sleazy type of character to me. They hold him in high regard for his role in “Closer” which was such a disgusting, nasty role that I haven’t enjoyed watching him acting ever since! Of the three Hollywood bigshots, Clive Owen’s acting was probably most noteworthy.
2) Location: The main disappointment (for me) was not necessarily the bad acting (although I thought the Sheikh in the movie played the most convincing role!). The biggest disappointment to me was the choice of film location and the focus on fight scenes and other so-called “action” rather than a convincing storyline. As someone who has really enjoyed my last 4 years living in the Sultanate and a person who is fascinated with the people, culture and history of Oman, I was so looking forward to watching a movie which was predominately about Oman.
Imagine my total surprise to learn that not one scene was filmed in Oman! Anyone who knows Oman would recognize while watching that it was not filmed here. It was funny to see the Omanis whispering to one another when the screen read “Muscat Airport”. Most people in the crowd knew it wasn’t and were telling each other that very fact, ha!ha! Would it have been so difficult to have it filmed here? They could have at least set a filming crew over to capture a few scenes. (?!?!) It would have made it more enjoyable and believable (for those of us in Oman at least). Read more about the location they did shoot it in here at the location guide website. There were only a few scenes that looked somewhat like the mountains of Oman. The premise of the movie revolves around an event that was supposed to have taken place during “The Battle of Mirbat” so my wife and I were hoping to see scenes of Mirbat as we enjoyed a trip there a few years back. Nope! Forget it! Now that I think about it, all of the references to Oman were quite insulting. “That godforsaken land…A useless slab of desert whose only virtue is resting on a plot of oil…” Stuff like that. I wonder how Omanis felt while watching it and hearing such disparaging words about their land.
3) Confusion Between Fact and Fiction:
The movie is based loosely on a book titled “The Feather Men” which I have yet to get my greedy little hands on. In the movie, the author is mentioned but instead of the proper name of the book, it’s supposed to be from a book titled “Soldiers and Tribesmen”. Anyway, I’m not about to give the whole story away here, but the ending is supposed to be quite a shocker. That totally would have worked in the book, but it doesn’t come off as anything special in the movie. One of the characters in the movie actually took the words right out of my mouth when they exclaimed, “Will it Ever End?!” The writer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, tried to promote the film by claiming it “was based on real events” and the producers, in the sake of making money still claim that it’s “based on real events” even though it’s been revealed that it is not! Here’s one article about the controversy over his book-turned-movie in The Telegraph. And here’s another. The author sounds like a megalomaniac who is more interested in making a man for himself than being truthful. The family of one of the men supposedly killed in one of the book and movie’s scenes confronted him with making it up and he confessed that he had indeed made it all up. The author took the unethical slip of writing an interesting book based loosely on his 2 years of service in the Sultan’s Armed Forces to twisting facts to make something seem more fascinating and thereby making more money.
4) A Cast of Unlikable and Unlikely “Heroes”: Some of the movie posters for Killer Elite include the line “May the Best Man Live” but that is clearly not appropriate as everyone is a ruthless killer in the film. It should read “May the Least Evil Man Survive“. I guess those are the kinds of heroes we can expect in this “Grand-Theft-Auto-generation” where the main heroes of the majority of movies out there are thieves, criminals, gangsters and con-artists.
Have any of you here in the Sultanate seen “Killer Elite”? If so, what did/do you think? I’m especially interested in hearing what Omanis think of the movie.