Monday, 15 May 2017

Review: Unlocked

Cert: 15 / 98 mins / Dir. Michael Apted / Trailer

I think I was right the other week, it must still be March. Demonstrating that there's still plenty of filler-thriller left on the shelves, Michael Apted's latest offering sees Noomi Rapace lead as a CIA agent working undercover with the UK security forces in anti-terrorism operations, her particular skill being the psychological manipulation of captured enemy operatives to reveal secrets and intel. In the middle of a relatively routine job, she realises that her organisation has been compromised, the clock is ticking and - you've guessed it - she doesn't who just who she can trust…

Leaving aside for one moment the industrial-strength levels of cynicism I'm able to draw upon when considering Unlocked, it's not really that bad a film. It's just desperately searching for a USP, and is so mechanical that our screening had an interval so that Peter O'Brien's screenplay could be wound back up again. The pacing is efficient enough at a standard-issue 98 minutes and with Rapace being joined by the likes of Toni Collette, Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas and John Malkovich, its casting budget is impressive at least*1. Speaking of performers, Bloom swaggers through his scenes like a cockney Noel Gallagher, Malkovich acts almost entirely with his ears and Rapace does so with her right eyebrow. Everyone else is firmly on autopilot for dour-faced foot-chases around North London*2. By the time Collette breaks out the machine gun semi-ironically, the third-act is in the post as surely as its timer-countdown ending.

While it's clear that there's some dramatic traction to the story being told, the 21st century is a crowded marketplace for the 'Bad Man Has A Bomb™' techno-thriller, and this film has little to sell.

To its credit, Unlocked features three (three) separate product-placement ads for Irn-Bru. It's not even like the thing takes place in Edinburgh, or anything. That's almost as impressive as the time Seabrook crisps rocked up in Fast & Furious.

Almost. But not quite.

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
This is about 50% Spooks, 50% Bastille Day.
It wishes it was 80% Die Hard, but it's not

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Not unless desaturated huffing and puffing through the streets of London is your thing. This was made for the £3 shelf in Asda, or preferably Netflix.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Oh, probably.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
All flippancy and sarcasm aside, it's not.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: That Akshay Kumar's in this, and he's in the upcoming Last Jedi movie. He's listed on the IMDB as "First Order Monitor". Going to assume for now that's some command-centre type role, rather than a GFFA 'milk monitor'?

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Although it does feel quite like like Michael Douglas was called in for a couple of days' shooting as a favour here, and John Malkovich similarly booked for a few days there. Each of their scenes feels strangely detached from everything else in the movie. Like that time Morgan Freeman was locked in a broom cupboard to record his bits for London Has Fallen... [ BACK ]

*2 Although our heroes do get a black-cab at one point. As the car pulls up we hear the driver say "That'll be £12.50, please". Given that this is London and the 21st century, I'm left assuming they took a taxi for around the length of one street? [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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