SURVIVOR.* Dead in the water


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PIERCE BROSNAN NEVER quite convinced as Bond, and now in “Survivor”, a dumbly derivative action thriller from James McTeigue (he of those other great classics, “The Raven”, “Ninja Assasin” and “V for Vendetta”), Brosnan brings his trademark action-man face (pursed lips) to signify determination. Alas, he’s as unconvincing as a hit man on the wrong side of the law as he was on the right side of it. Which makes him fit right in. McTeigue has given us a movie of breathless pace and dramatic explosions, which, were it not for Pierce’s pursed lips, could easily pass for a pastiche. It’s as though he’s made a real effort to ensure that nothing and no one in the movie even remotely convinces.

The story centers around Kate Abbott (Milla Jovovich), a State Department employee posted to the US Embassy in London and charged with stopping terrorists getting into the US. Unlike most of the others around her, she has a keen nose for subterfuge and hidden plots. This not only makes her unpopular, but after various close colleagues wind up dead, she becomes a terrorist suspect.

Kate must elude the CIA, MI5 and a cabal of terrorists, led by the Watchmaker (Brosnan) bent on blowing up the Times Square ball in New York on New Year’s Eve. Brosnan’s character (Nash) when he isn’t blowing up people or stabbing them in the ears with sharp objects, is a bespoke watchmaker. This little fact has absolutely nothing to do with the plot, but writer Philip Shelby (who doesn’t have much to his credit) seemed to have thought it an interesting way of filling out Nash’s character.

Or maybe it’s a damnably clever play on the issue of time…since Abbott must fake various ID’s, steal into the heavily armed US Embassy to forge a passport and board a flight to New York, despite being on every news report as a dangerous wanted criminal…to get there IN TIME. In time to stop the Watchmaker. Every second counts.

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Will she make it? Will she outfox the dastardly Watchmaker? Will she – a misunderstood, framed employee of incompetent US officials – save millions of lives? I’m sure you wouldn’t want me to give away the nerve-ending shocker.

Fortunately for these millions, nothing can possibly stop Abbott. She’s the ultimate survivor. She’s blown up, battered by exploding doors, shot at, beaten up, slammed against walls, and thrown across rooms. But she just ain’t stoppable.

This would be a touch unconvincing but for a few factors which we discerning movie-goers are meant to cotton on to:

She may look like some employee called Abbott. But she’s after all Milla Jovovich, aka Alice, from Resident Evil. Nothing stops Alice. Milla doesn’t even pretend to alter her expression throughout the movie. Really there’s not enough time to do that. She simply has to take the various beatings and, like Alice keep running to outfox her new resident evil.

Abbott/Alice/Milla is also up against the dumbest man in MI5, Paul. Paul is James D’Arcy, the sleazy bad guy from “Broadchurch”. He tries hard, runs around a lot as well, but really is no match for Resident Evil

McTeigue throws in a passel of other well-knowns to add some gloss of credibility to this ‘greatest hits of other thrillers’ movie. There’s the stern, uncompromising, by the book boss (Angela Bassett), the tough but tender hearted friend (Dylan McDermott) and the perennial brusque older man (Robert Forster)

I’m sure it was a good pay-out for them all.

And I’m sure the investors will recoup the $20M it cost to make…though, up against “Tomorrowland”, “Mad Max”, “San Andreas” and “Pitch Perfect 2”, it’s going to be a tough road to climb.

And I’m sure we’re all stressed out by this.

 

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