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THE KILLER ELITE

Director: SAM PECKINPAH

U.S.A. • 1975 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • 35MM • 123 MIN


The killer elite are freelance mercenaries operating in murky waters where even the CIA will not venture and for whom betrayal and brutality are the regular currency of exchange. When Robert Duvall double-crosses his partner (James Caan) and leaves him wounded and crippled, Caan vows revenge. An opportunity arises when he is contracted to protect a political leader who is being targeted by an assassination squad headed by Duvall.

Critics have tended to dismiss this as minor Peckinpah, a convoluted tale of espionage overdosing on shootouts and car chases, though Michael Billington notably rallied to its defence, defending it as a film ‘about personal survival in a world of mean-minded machination’ and lauding its mystery and visual splendour. Caan and Duvall are the epitome of cold-blooded professionalism and, as Caan’s therapist, Katy Heflin provides a welcome touch of tenderness amidst the treachery.

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