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“Killer Elite,” reviewed

“Killer Elite,” reviewed (photo)

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You’ve heard people boast they could beat someone up with one hand tied behind their back before. In “Killer Elite,” Jason Statham beats two guys up with both of his hands tied behind his back, while the rest of him is tied to a chair. That’s a picture of the scene above. Look at that. Jason Statham, tied to a chair, beats the crap out of a guy who is not tied to a chair. That is awesome. He is awesome. And “Killer Elite” is awesome enough, in scenes like that, that it doesn’t really matter that it’s insanely, pointlessly complicated. Jason Statham beats up two dudes while he’s tied to a chair. That is satisfaction.

Actually, there’s more to like about this movie than the single coolest fight scene of the year. One of two men the chairbound Statham is tussling with is Clive Owen, who brings a lot of intensity to the role of Statham’s primary antagonist in the film. Every scene these two share together — and there aren’t many, unfortunately — crackle with antagonistic energy. They just look like they genuinely hate each other in a way that goes beyond the animosity between characters who, as we’ll get to, don’t really have a lot to fight over. It’s like these two guys were up for the same part in something, and one got it and the other didn’t, and they never let it go, and now years later they finally worked it out onscreen. Statham and Owen were born to beat the shit out of each other. They should be in ten more movies together where they fight whilst attached to various types of furniture.

The third member of this impressive cast is Robert De Niro, and it is he who sets this whole narrative contraption into motion. He plays Hunter (First name? Last name? PSN login?), former partner of Statham’s special agent Danny Bryce. After a hit gone bad, Danny officially retires. He’s pulled back into things when Hunter is kidnapped by an Omani sheik. To save his friend, Danny must kill the men of Britain’s Special Air Service who killed the sheik’s sons. But doing so brings Danny and his crew to the attention of a shadowy organization of British elites named “The Feather Men.” The Feather Men, all former SAS veterans themselves, want to protect their own, and send Owen’s Spike (First name? Last name? Cable television channel product integration?) to kill Danny.

These Feather Men are a hoot. They hold secret meetings in their clubhouse on the set of the movie “Clue” where they do absolutely nothing except explain who the Feather Men are for the benefit of the audience. “That’s why we’re called The Feather Men,” one proclaims to Spike. “Because our touch,” pause for dramatic effect, “is light!” That’s ridiculous! Not only is the line itself ridiculous, the sheer existence of any line in that situation is ridiculous. Why is he describing who the Feather Men are to a group of Feather Men? Shouldn’t they be fairly familiar with the concept of the organization since they are the only people in it? I’m still laughing at that line, and I saw this movie two weeks ago.

The oil sheik, the Feather Men, the forced allusions to the modern war on terror (the film is set about thirty years ago), they’re all needless distractions from the main event: Statham (and occasionally De Niro) kicking ass on Owen and company. You know how I know they’re needless distractions? Because none of them appear for even a frame in the trailer for “Killer Elite” and it all still makes perfect sense without them. Actually, the movie might make even more sense without them; the various factions and backstories and allegiances all become a wee big complicated for a film that’s ultimately about Jason Statham chairfighting guys.

Still, the good stuff is good enough to recommend the film. Statham delivers yet another satisfyingly ferocious performance, and his athleticism and physicality in the fight scenes remain amongt the best of his generation. Director Gary McKendry is clearly from the Paul Greengrass school of chaos cinema but he keeps things coherent enough to follow what’s going on. A lot of that has to do with Statham who, of course, can do many of the stunts himself, requiring less cutaways and editing. You should see him in that scene with the chair, man. It’s an instant classic.

“KIller Elite” opens Friday. If you see it, we want to know what you think. Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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