D: James McTeigue / 96m
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Pierce Brosnan, Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett, James D’Arcy, Robert Forster, Frances de la Tour, Roger Rees, Benno Fürmann, Genevieve O’Reilly, Corey Johnson
Kate Abbott (Jovovich) has transferred to the American Embassy in London. She oversees visa applications to the US by foreign nationals travelling through the UK. When she suspects that gas expert Dr Balan (Rees) isn’t all that he seems, it leads to her being hunted by assassin the Watchmaker (Brosnan). With only her colleague, Sam Parker (McDermott), believing she’s had nothing to do with the deaths of other colleagues in a bomb blast, or that of her immediate boss, Bill Talbot (Forster), Kate is forced to go on the run in an attempt to get to the bottom of the conspiracy she’s found herself entangled in.
Narrowly escaping several attempts on her life by the Watchmaker, Kate realises she has to get back into the embassy in order to find the proof she needs to expose the conspiracy. Helped by Sam and another colleague, Sally (de la Tour), Kate discovers enough information to send her off to New York on New Year’s Eve. Followed by the Watchmaker, Kate has only a few hours to foil a terrorist attack planned for midnight in Times Square, and which is backed by the pharmaceutical company that Balan works for.
Take a director whose previous output includes V for Vendetta (2005) and the underrated Ninja Assassin (2009), add two principal stars who are no strangers to the action genre, a supporting cast of more than capable (and proven) actors, and good location work in both London and New York – and what do you get? A terrible piece of nonsense that doesn’t even bother to try and hide how preposterous it all is. This is largely thanks to Philip Shelby’s overly-simplistic, corner-cutting script, a melange of action movie clichés and inane dialogue lumped in amongst an unconvincing plot and the kind of one-dimensional characterisations that leave the viewer shaking their head in disbelief.
There’s no point at which Survivor is even remotely credible, and while there’s a small degree of amusement to be had at each nutty development in the script, McTeigue fails to maintain any degree of confidence behind the camera. As a result, the movie plods from one uninspired set piece to the next without pausing for breath or an injection of self-belief. Jovovich runs around a lot looking frazzled and confused (as well she might), while Brosnan sleepwalks through his role with the look of an actor wondering where his career went to. By the end, with its inevitable showdown between Kate and the Watchmaker, the movie has given up trying to be exciting or different, and renders itself completely unremarkable.
Rating: 3/10 – why movies like these continue to be made is anybody’s guess, but Survivor is an object lesson in how not to make a modern day thriller with Cold War overtones; lacking credibility is one thing, but lacking suspense as well makes for a poorly judged and ill-considered movie that viewers can only help will end sooner than it does.