The Killer Elite
Location la: Bartos Screening Room
Dir. Sam Peckinpah. 1975. 122 mins. 35mm. With James Caan, Robert Duvall, Arthur Hill, Bo Hopkins, Gig Young, Burt Young. Released during the heyday of the 1970s conspiracy thriller, Sam Peckinpah’s The Killer Elite might rank as the most cynical of them all. James Caan plays Mike Locken, a contracted agent for a private security firm affiliated with the CIA. After getting double-crossed and critically shot by his partner (Duvall), he is determined to rehabilitate and resume his career, if only to avenge his betrayer. He gets his chance when called upon to save a Chinese anti-communist from marauding ninjas, a group that has recruited his old partner. While Caan was not a fan of the film—he once told Gene Siskel that he ranked the film “zero out of ten”—his weary disaffection and physical frustration (saddled with a limp and locked elbow for close to the duration of the film) perfectly suits Peckinpah’s odd tonalities and dramatic subversions.
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