“Blood doesn’t bother me. It’s ink I’m worried about.”
Plot-in-a-nutshell: retired hired assassin is dragged back into the world of shooty death to save the life of a colleague
See it if you like: impressive thrillers dressed up as action films with excellent casts, intriguing “based on real events” storylines and brutal fight scenes
I mentioned the cast up there, and impressive it is indeed. Jason Statham at his very best (actually acting, not just being a tough guy), Robert De Niro in as meaty a role as you’ll ever see him in and Clive Owen crossing the good guy/bad guy part impressively. YvonneÂ Strahovski (from TV’s Chuck) also appears as the eye candy, getting to use her native Australian accent – though it does sound a little Kiwi. Please don’t tell her I said that.
Unusually for a film that is – or must be – pretty much fiction or at the very least hypothesis, it’s based on events described in a book partially regarded as non-fiction: Sir Ranulph Fiennes‘ The Feather Men. Set around the Oman war, it details or alludes to a large amount of British involvement which to this day is classified under the Official Secrets Act. Read the Wikipedia article (linked previously) for more information on the interesting story behind it.
The film runs for around 2 hours and crams a lot into that time. Statham plays Danny, one of a band of mercenaries who gets out of the game after one job too many. He is dragged in some months later by a rich oil sheikh who wants one last job done – the killing of three SAS soldiers, guilty of killing three of his sons. As an extra incentive for doing the job, Danny’s friend and ex-partner Hunter (De Niro) is held hostage.
Danny drafts a couple of old friends and they set out on their mission, eventually coming up against the novel’s titular “Feather Men” and their rogue member Spike (Owen).
There shouldn’t really be any clear good or bad guys in the film, but of course Hollywood won’t allow that so there’s an element of non-ruthlessness in places where you’d expect more from the characters. Aside from that, it’s a fairly brutal and unforgiving film very well filmed and with some excellent fight scenes and set pieces. Best of all, though, is that they’re wrapped in an excellent plot.
With such a strong cast, it’s almost a relief to have s decent story to go along with it. Nothing is too over-the-top, even the gore. It keeps the interest right the way until the end credits.