Agent Game

Review by Rich Cline | 2/5

Agent Game
dir Grant S Johnson
prd Tyler W Konney
scr Mike Langer, Tyler W Konney
with Dermot Mulroney, Mel Gibson, Jason Isaacs, Adan Canto, Katie Cassidy, Annie Ilonzeh, Rhys Coiro, Barkhad Abdi, Mark Weinhandl, Paul Burke, Sara Castro, Andrew Masset
release US 8.Apr.22
22/US Saban 1h30

gibson mulroney abdi

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isaacs and mulroney
Shot in that standard slick, hyper-masculine style, this thriller relies heavily on the audience's familiarity with cliches as it skips around its scrambled narrative. Director Grant Johnson jumps in time between two halves of the story, trying to build tension without revealing enough information to do that. Things almost come together for an epic shootout in the final act, but it's difficult to care who's still standing afterwards.
At a CIA black site, operatives Bill and Visser (Isaacs and Ilonzeh) are interrogating a suspect (Abdi) under the supervision of Harris (Mulroney) when they're ordered by top boss Olsen (Gibson) in Washington to escalate their questioning. And things go horribly wrong. Weeks later, Olsen is directing an operation for ambitious agents Kavinsky and Miller (Canto and Cassidy), who are working with Reese (Coiro) to transport a mysterious prisoner on a private jet. And it might be too late when they discover that all of this is leading them into a seriously dangerous trap.
Fragmenting the plot with cross-cutting and flashbacks removes any possible suspense from the movie, as it takes a very long time for each taut set-piece to properly make sense within the bigger story. There are questions about mysterious messages received by the two trios of agents, causing perilous gun-waving in both the black site and on the jet. And flashbacks reveal Olsen meeting individually with each agent for charged discussions that seem to be setting up something nefarious. But this ominous tone is under-developed.

Despite the deliberately gloomy under-lighting, the actors manage to breathe life into these shallow characters. None of them seems like a person with any sort of life off-screen, but there's at least some sparky interaction between them. Isaacs is particularly good, as always, at offering prickly internal intrigue between the lines. Gibson provides some murky gravitas in a role that he almost literally phones in. And Canto, Cassidy, Ilonseh and Coiro have enough presence to resist becoming interchangeable.

There's so little to this film that it's almost breathtaking. A big reveal an hour in provides some interest, exposing the real villains of the piece and setting things up for a final act that drives forward with intent. And it's chilling to be reminded how a murderous scorched-earth policy can be so easily wielded in secret places where the law doesn't reach. But this kind of movie is utterly forgettable. If only the story and characters had been built with just a bit more coherence, complexity or originality.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 7.Apr.22

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© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall