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Surviving against the odds

Survivor movie review

Movie Rating:

I was wrong about Survivor.

Last week, when I reviewed Spy, I lumped it in with other films that had Bond pretensions.

Now, in my defence, this is what the trailer would have us believe – Pierce Brosnan may have changed sides, but he was still the running, jumping, shooting guy he so loved being before being retired in favour of Daniel Craig.

But the trailer was misleading.

Instead, Survivor is a simple action movie with ambitions of being a thriller. And to be fair, at times it almost gets there.

The story focuses on Kate Abbot (played very well by Milla Jovovic), a government agent who thinks she’s on to something.

Then things go boom, Brosnan’s The Watchmaker (no, really) comes after her and she has to go on the run and try to stop a thing.

And that’s pretty much it.

And it could have been brilliant.

Sadly, however, someone forgot to suggest a more subtle approach, and as a result this is a thriller where you don’t have to do any thinking as the plot points are explained along the way.

Which is criminal, because with some better writing and more judicious editing, there could have been twists and turns instead of a laboured dash in a straight line.

Then there’s the dialogue.

Clunky would be a kind word to use. Ridiculous and at times just down-right daft could also be brought in to play.

But it does look nice.

Cinematographer Danny Ruhlmann has done a fine job in making it look slick and atmospheric, with a lot of shadows helping to add atmosphere to cover up the lack of depth.

And, as I said earlier, Jovovich is in great form.

She is thoroughly credible as the American agent battling against the odds. She can handle the action scenes with ease, while being thoroughly believable when it comes to showing actual emotion.

Which is just as well, because Brosnan left his acting chops in his trailer.

Now, granted, playing the world’s most wanted assassin (again, really) was never going to require a Shakespearian performance, but at times it feels like even he can’t quite believe what he’s being asked to say and do.

Brosnan that is, not Shakespeare.

And then there’s his action scenes.

Not wishing to be unkind, but Pierce isn’t getting any younger. Not a problem when playing a divorced dad in, say, The Love Punch or A Long Way Down (in both of which he is excellent), but when he has to slide down a light fitting?

Yes, it looks great, and has some lovely lighting techniques along with it, but he doesn’t look comfortable doing it.

And running after Jovovich is no walk in the park either.

This, on the back of The November Man, would suggest it really is time he accepted he’s not 007 any more and got on with making films with substance. Or intended laughs.

Mind you, he’s not the only one who fails to have any sparkle.

Dylan McDermott, Frances De La Tour and Roger Rees are just three of the assembled cast who don’t seem quite sure why they’re there.

But even among all these negatives, there are some positives.

As well as looking nice, the action and explosions are good, and there is a brief spell where – even though you know who is doing what when – you do find yourself edging forward in your seat.

Which actually came as a bit of a shock, because not five minutes earlier I’d been picking apart another scene for it’s basic daftness.

And not just because I enjoy doing that sort of thing, no. With Survivor, they kind of leap out at you.

Want to enter a cordoned off bomb scene? Just say “American embassy” to the Bobby on duty and he’ll let you through. Need to meet someone at St Pancras around Christmas time? No bother, just drive there and park right outside. Want to stop a car getting in to a busy city centre? Don’t speak to the driver, tell the passenger in the back…

Amazingly though, the positives do outweigh the negatives.

Sure, it’s unsubtle (wait till you see what’s on screen right at the end, just before the credits roll) and does all your thinking for you, but treat it as a 90-minute nuts-and-bolts action romp and you won’t come away too disappointed.

Movie Rating:

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A fresh approach to film reviews - no spoilers, just honest and heartfelt opinions.