The Killer Elite

After a brilliantly cryptic opening, The Killer Elite settles into Peckinpah's most apparently straightforward action film since The Getaway. Built around the internal politics of a San Francisco company which sidelines in dirty work that even the CIA won't touch, it concentrates on the painful recovery of an agent (Caan), wounded in knee and elbow in a double-cross, and his search for revenge. During Caan's lengthy recuperation, Peckinpah contemplates the old themes of betrayal, trust and humiliation. And through the action of the second half, Caan (like other Peckinpah heroes) comes to some sort of understanding. The set pieces (a Chinatown shoot-out, a dockland siege, the superb ships' graveyard climax) are excellent, as are so many secondary scenes. There are echoes here of Point Blank, and behind the deceits and manipulations both are essentially simple films. Unmistakable Peckinpah - not a masterpiece, but enough to be going on with.

Release details

Duration: 120 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Screenwriter: Marc Norman, Stirling Silliphant
Cast: James Caan
Robert Duvall
Arthur Hill
Gig Young
Mako
Bo Hopkins
Burt Young
Helmut Dantine
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