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dir Ariel Vromen
scr Douglas Cook, David Weisberg
prd JC Spink, Jake Weiner, Matt O'Toole, Mark Gill, Christa Campbell
with Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Jordi Molla, Gal Gadot, Michael Pitt, Lara Decaro, Alice Eve, Antje Traue, Amaury Nolasco, Scott Adkins
release UK/US 15.Apr.16
16/UK Lionsgate 1h53
Trouble on his mind: Costner under guard
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
As preposterous as this screenplay is, the film rustles up some terrific surprises along the way, with enough humour, action and emotion to make it a thoroughly entertaining romp. And at the centre, it offers Kevin Costner a role that carries unexpected depth and texture. So even as the story gets sillier, it manages to grab hold of the audience.
In London, CIA operative Bill (Reynolds) is at a key point in a mission when he's cornered by evil anarchist Xavier (Molla) and killed. But Bill's boss Wells (Oldman) needs to know what Bill was working on in order to stop Xavier from starting World War III. So he convinces scientist Franks (Jones) to do a human trial with his mind-transfer experiment, transferring Bill's memories into the only suitable brain he can find, the ruthless psychopath inmate Jericho (Costner). But can Jericho make sense of this swirl of new thoughts?
Director Vromen charges into this premise without hesitation, filling the screen with characters who all act on impulse. So there isn't much time for the audience to explore the plot holes (although Londoners will find their brains hurting like Jericho's if they try to follow the chase sequence geography). The film is infused with an edgy, urgent tone that doesn't quite justify the continual brutal violence, but there's just enough nuance that everything remains bracingly engaging.
Costner hasn't had a meaty role like this in years. The high concept is that Jason from Friday the 13th has been given Jason Bourne's brain. But there are emotional elements that bring this to intriguing life in Jericho's reaction to Bill's wife and daughter (Gadot and Decaro). These scenes are beautifully played, adding statrling weight to the entire film. Meanwhile, Oldman blusters his way as a man far too frantic to run a CIA bureau, and Jones quietly maintains his cool.
Aside from Jericho, all of the characters are fairly one-note, and the script establishes early on that no one is safe as the nasty mayhem escalates. But there are clever twists and satisfying moments right through to the end. And while the movie has nothing meaningful to say about its central themes of politics, terrorism or whistleblowing, it does offer some unexpected insight into the nature of the human soul.
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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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