dir James McTeigue
scr Philip Shelby
prd Charles Winkler, Irwin Winkler, Matt O'Toole, Les Weldon
with Milla Jovovich, Pierce Brosnan, Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Frances de la Tour, James D'Arcy, Roger Rees, Benno Furmann, Genevieve O'Reilly, Sonya Cassidy, Antonia Thomas
release US 29.May.15, UK 5.Jun.15
15/UK Millennium 1h36
In the line of fire: Jovovich and Forster

brosnan mcdermott bassett
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Survivor When a character says, "Something about this just doesn't add up," we couldn't agree more. While this terrorism thriller is sharply made and has an adept cast, it never quite springs to life because the script fails to make much of a case. Director McTeigue cranks up the old-school suspense, but without a sense of what's at stake, it feels bizarrely lacklustre.

The US Embassy in London has been warned about dodgy visa applicants, and managers Sam and Bill (McDermott and Forster) are relying on security chief Kate (Jovovich). But when she flags up an application from a chemical specialist (Rees), things start to go wrong, resulting in a bombing. Kate is framed as a killer while being pursued by a mysterious assassin known as The Watchmaker (Brosnan). While the ambassador (Bassett) and a British inspector (D'Arcy) believe Kate is the villain, she tenaciously sets out to not just survive but foil the nefarious plot.

Kate is pushed so far to the brink that we can't help but root for her, especially since Jovovich plays her as such a realistic everywoman. But then Kate is also the only trustworthy character in the film, as the script casts shade on everyone else. Eventually McDermott gets to be heroic, as does de la Tour (as an Embassy expert). Meanwhile, Brosnan is eerily authentic as a ruthless killer: cool-headed, casually efficient and unconcerned about collateral damage.

Oddly, the whole film is as dispassionate as he is. McTeigue's direction is slickly efficient enough to almost make up for Shelby's deliberately murky script, which is packed with implausible story elements (mainly because Brosnan seems to be everywhere at once). It also lacks any real complexity, so the pace doesn't hit its stride until the final scene. Thankfully, the big finale is staged with an intriguing authenticity (preposterous plot aside).

The filmmakers refreshingly avoid flashy action cliches, letting the actors add weight that gives the set-pieces an unusually human scale. Even the fight scenes feel gritty and real, rather than over-choreographed. So by the time enough of the evil plan has been revealed to make it mean something, there's plenty to keep us gripped to our seats. And a strong central heroine to put our hope in. But it's clear that the filmmakers completely missed the irony in the concluding tagline about counterterrorism.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 30.May.15

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