PLOT: A foreign service officer (Milla Jovovich) stationed in London is framed for a terrorist bombing. Now on the run from her former colleagues, she must discover who the real terrorists are while staying one step ahead of a hitman (Pierce Brosnan) hired to kill her.
REVIEW: It always frustrates me when I see movies like SURVIVOR. A B-grade thriller with a solid $20 million budget (according to Wikipedia), with some better writing and more inventive staging this could have easily been a nifty little ride. While the premise is old hat, Milla Jovovich makes for an impressively down-to-earth heroine as opposed to her part in the RESIDENT EVIL franchise. Pairing her up with Pierce Brosnan, who's playing against type as a baddie, should have made for a solid thriller, but it's shamefully abysmal.
Director James McTeigue has made good action films before. V FOR VENDETTA was excellent, while NINJA ASSASSIN while dumb was at least energetic. Despite a ninety minute run-time, this is dull as dust, similar to his last effort the low-rent THE RAVEN. Pretty much a discount version of SALT, SURVIVOR hits all the genre cliches. Jovovich is the low-key professional trying to do her job but stymied by her boss (Robert Forster) in a way that telegraphs an eventual twist far too early. There are lots of chases where Jovovich has to avoid the authorities Jason Bourne-style, but McTeigue either doesn't have the resources or the inspiration to stage any really good set-pieces, with all the chases and quick fights being nothing more than you'd see on a network procedural any night of the week.
One should probably never let logic get in the way of a chase thriller, but the plot here is hard to swallow even by genre standards. The bad guys plan, where they try to do away with Jovovich by blowing her up in a restaurant to make it seem like she died in a terrorist attack makes no sense whatsoever. As soon as Brosnan's baddie realizes she's survived her tries to shoot her in broad daylight, which should certainly prove to authorities that Jovovich is innocent, especially in a heavily cctv'd city like London. The idea of them framing her happens accidentally, with her colleagues having nothing beyond the barest circumstantial evidence to prove she's a terrorist, which you think they'd be somewhat reticent about given that she's supposed to be playing a celebrated agent with a history of foiling deadly attacks.
It's crazy that such a half-assed concept was able to attract talent like this, with not only Jovovich and Brosnan as the leads, but also a capable supporting cast including the under-used as always Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett and James D'Arcy (but NOT Emma Thompson who is still listed on several sites). Jovovich in particular seems to be really trying here. While she's played action heroines many times before, she's admirably low-key, trying to give off the impression that's she's in over her head and using her smarts rather than brawn or RESIDENT EVIL style wire-fu to save the day. She deserves much better than this. For his part, Brosnan at least seems to be having fun playing a full-fledged baddie. He actually looks pretty menacing with his salt and pepper hair and constant glower. In his late-fifties, Brosnan still seems extremely capable in the action scenes. Like Jovovich, he deserves better material than this.
In the end, SURVIVOR was probably never meant for the big-screen and should cash-in and cash-out fairly well on VOD both here and abroad based on the name value of the stars involved. Still, it's sad to see Jovovich and Brosnan in something so low-rent, as both have a lot more to offer. Had the writing been a little sharper and the staging a bit more energetic, SURVIVOR could have been a solid film rather than the immediately disposable filler it ultimately is.
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