Verdict: 2.5 / 5
America against Russia, conspiracies, corrupt politicians, black-widow assassins, Czechoslovakian war crimes and the CIA swooping in; sounds like a great spy film. It even has an old 007 actor.
As the director of renown films like Species, Thirteen Days and The Bank Job, Roger Donaldson is a name Hollywood knows and appreciates. He does not have a terribly successful history with Brosnan (namely Dante’s Peak) but this time around, in this genre, they worked together to create a James Bond replica. Literally you could change the name and posters and this will make hundreds of millions of dollars. That seems to be the hope of Donaldson as there is already a sequel in the pipeline, backed by the acclaimed Relativity Studios.
Adapted from one of the books in the series with the same name, the story starts a few years earlier. CIA agents Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) and his protégé David Mason (Luke Bracey) are sent on a delicate mission that takes a wrong turn. In the thick of it Mason makes a huge mistake as a result of disobeying Devereaux’s commands. Devereaux with his best intentions, trying to train maverick Mason, ends up causing irreparable resentment between them. Years later, once Devereaux has retired, the CIA chief (Hanley – Bill Smitrovich) shows up with a secret extraction mission, that he (for reasons revealed) cannot refuse. The target is a person who has tangible evidence to unearth war-crimes performed by the Russian president-elect; Federov (Lazar Ristovski). Little does Devereaux know that there are other parties that are interested in the package, and Mason emerges with his long-held rancour. The key to the whole saga is a humble social worker, Alice (Olga Kurylenko) who seems to have no clue what her life is about to turn into.
The plot explodes from there and becomes a convoluted political mess, which is actually quite confusing and is not well explained, even towards the end. There are a series of inexplicable events and really obscure character behaviours. Some might say that this actually makes the storyline more human and real-world, but really it just leaves you detached from the hero, Devereaux. There is a sex-scene that doesn’t fit in the mood and a traumatising assault to an innocent character by the hero, to prove a point to the anti-hero, Mason. This leaves the viewer not sure who to trust, believe in or root for. Up to the 70th minute the violence is PG-13 but something just flicks over and then it’s unnecessary blood-splats and R-rated ferocity, which just seems out of place.
The time passes quite quickly with a lot going on and lots to think about, and plenty of shooting and chasing. The banter in the thick of things is entertaining and intense. The dialogue has few clichés or catch-phrases, which is refreshing. The casting is really well done with proper eastern European actors filling the roles and holding legitimate accents, which makes the context believable.
All in all, there is good dialogue, an involving plot and enough action, but not quite up to scratch in the plot development and continuity, with poor editing and action cinematography.
So Brosnan, with at least 10 films a decade since the 80’s, a talented Irish-born sexagenarian, has a career that spans from television series to drama to romance to action to thriller to comedy. Irish DreamTime (also the name of the unofficial Brosnan fan-club) is a production house that co-produced this feature and is Brosnan’s life-project. He is a true legend but recently, and again now, his skills have been let down by weak films. Kurylenko is moving away from the seductress roles into
ones that show her talents as the fully-fledged actress that she is, and this film is a great continuation. Kurylenko and Brosnan hold the tension and the atmosphere together, uplifting this feature to an acceptable level: slightly above average.