The Elite Bunch: “The Killer Elite”

I watched an hour and 20 minutes of the Sam Peckinpah film, The Killer Elite (1975), until, weary of how stupid it was, I stopped. James Caan and Robert Duvall enact two employees of a violence-using private company affiliated with the CIA. Expecting more money from another source, Duvall commits murder and betrays Caan by shooting him in the kneecap. I knew I was in trouble with the film when, a relatively short time later, Caan, sporting a cane, starts taking judo or karate lessons (whichever they are).

An hour into the movie, Caan and a team of his confront the guns of Duvall and his crew of scumbags. Waiting to fire on Caan’s team, one of the scumbags sits not in a simple car but in a stolen or borrowed garbage truck! (He’s trying to be sneaky, you see.) Let me comment also that this sequence did not exactly inspire memorable dialogue.

Peckinpah was a talented director who worked with some knowing film editors, but he was mostly inept at writing and judging writing. The men behind the script here tut-tut the CIA because of its . . . contracting, but as the late John Simon explained, if these gents had known unpleasant truths about the CIA, they would not have been allowed to impart them. I don’t know what The Killer Elite is imparting.

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