face it, the terrorists are way more unified than we are. When there is an
opportunity to strike a blow against the ever-tolerant West, they will put
aside doctrinal differences to make it happen. In contrast, our intelligence
and law enforcement agencies are much more concerned about politics, turf
management, and general career CYA-ing. At least that is the timely picture that
emerges in James McTeigue’s Survivor (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
Abbott has only been stationed in London for five months or so, but it is clear
the Foreign Service security specialist is really good at her job—too good, in
fact. When she discovers Bill Talbot, the head of the visa department has
personally intervened to admit several dubious chemical specialists into the
country, he quickly arranges to have her killed in a bombing, along with the
rest of the visa section. Naturally fate dictates she will be away from the table
at the critical moment. That means the assassin, a veteran terrorist known
simply as “the Watchmaker” will have to finish her off personally, spy-versus-spy
course, suspicion immediately falls on Abbott, with the American ambassador and
Inspector Paul Anderson, the Scotland Yard point man being especially obtuse
about it all. Only Sam Parker, the senior political officer, believes in her
glaringly obvious innocence. Unfortunately, as the Yanks and the Brits chase
Abbott, the Watchmaker and his allies have an open field to finish the last stages
of their grand WMD conspiracy.
helmed the radical favorite V for
Vendetta, it is rather odd to see McTeigue associated with a film that
considers the mass murder of innocent civilians a bad thing—one to be avoided
if at all possible. The credit is probably due to screenwriter Philip Shelby,
who co-wrote the second novel in Robert Ludlum’s Covert One series. There are some flashes of inspiration to be
found within, particularly with respects to the disturbing but seemingly unrelated
prologue, but the film soon settles into a by-the-numbers “Wrong Man” style
thriller. It is also disappointing to see Survivor
wimping out in terms of the ultimate villains, who are mere schemers hoping
to make a fortune selling short.
as Abbott, Milla Jovovich is a surprisingly credible presence. After ten or twelve
Resident Evil films, we know she has
action chops, but she is also convincing playing a smart, reserved character. A
Lindsay Lohan or a Megan Fox just couldn’t carry it off. Strangely though, the
film does not fully capitalize on her hardnosed potential, forcing her to be a
little damsel-in-distress-y at times.
course, Pierce Brosnan is no stranger to international intrigue, but he cruises
through Survivor on auto-pilot. It is
hard to forget how much better he was as a ruthless assassin opposite Michael
Caine in The Fourth Protocol. Still, Robert
Forster is reliable as ever humanizing the treasonous Talbot (he has his tragic
reasons), but James D’Arcy’s unintuitive Inspector seems to be hinting at every
repressed, twittish cliché about British public school civil servants.
To its credit, Shelby’s screenplay acknowledges some
important realities, such as the events of September 11th, which
were Abbott’s motivation for her current line of work. Survivor makes a strong case Jovovich has been grossly
underemployed by Hollywood, but as a big picture thriller, it is rather routine.
Perhaps worth a look streaming or on cable, Survivor
opens tomorrow (5/29) in New York, at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Milla Jovovich, Pierce Brosnan, Robert Forster, Terrorism in film