Unlocked 2017

CINEMA MOVIES

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After failing to apprehend the terrorist behind a Paris attack that claimed dozens of lives, CIA agent Alice Racine (Noomi Rapace) is forced to live in London as a caseworker. Unexpectedly, she is called back into action by her mentor, Eric Lasch (Michael Douglas), when the CIA discovers intel of another imminent attack. While “unlocking” the suspect, Alice discovers that the classified information she has uncovered has been compromised. Running for her life, Alice turns to ex-soldier Jack ( Orlando Bloom) to prevent a lethal biological attack on the citizens of London..

Production company: Di Bonaventura Pictures 128 MINUTES
Distributor: Lionsgate
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Douglas, Toni Collette, Orlando Bloom, John Malkovich, Tosin Cole
Director: Michael Apted
Screenplay: Peter O’Brien
Producers: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Claudia Bleumhuber, Georgina Townsley, Erik Howsam
Cinematographer: George Richmond
Editor: Andrew MacRitchie
Production designer: Ondrej Nekvasil
Music: Stephen Barton

Unlocked: Film Review

Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom and Michael Douglas lead the starry cast in this London-set action thriller from former 007 director Michael Apted.

There must surely be a gap in the market for a female-led spy thriller series in the James Bond or Jason Bourne mode. Alas, Unlocked is not the film to launch that franchise, despite sticking firmly within genre conventions. A little too firmly, arguably. Despite a starry international cast headed by Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Toni Collette and Michael Douglas, this functional contemporary spy yarn is played way too straight by 76-year-old British director Michael Apted (The World Is Not Enough), who brings nothing fresh to the formula besides the minor innovation of dropping an action heroine into a male-dominated field.

That said, the timely plot about Islamist terror attacks on the streets of London and Paris will add a newsworthy angle to the film’s marketing. Unlocked has already sold widely across multiple territories, and makes its U.K. theatrical debut later this week, with a U.S. release scheduled for September. Globally, the largely conservative groundswell of undemanding action-thriller fanboys will likely deliver respectable box-office numbers, but do not put money on a sequel.

Rapace plays Alice Racine, a hotshot CIA agent working deep undercover in a grungy East London neighborhood where Islamist terror groups are known to operate. Still haunted by a Paris bomb massacre that she failed to prevent, Alice tells her former agency boss (Douglas) that she is wary of returning to active duty. But when an imminent large-scale attack involving Russian biological weapons suddenly looks likely, she grudgingly bows to pressure to help interrogate a key suspect. Then all hell breaks loose.

A few treacherous twists later, Alice is on the run from a spectacular bloodbath, dodging furtively past tourist-friendly London landmarks with both U.K. and U.S. intelligence agents on her tail. A chance meeting with a hunky ex-marine turned wise-cracking house burglar (Bloom) provides her with an unlikely ally, while the sassy head of MI5 (Collette) also offers ambivalent support. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a sardonic CIA chief (John Malkovich) monitors her progress suspiciously. As Alice races against time to foil the bio-terror attack, it starts to feel like everybody is playing a double or even triple game.

In theory, Unlocked is a noble attempt to forge a female counterpart to Bourne or Bond. But in reality, it is seriously hobbled by a creaky script and clumsy performances. Apted has a respectable track record, but he can do little to energize a groaningly familiar Frankenplot that seems to have been patched together from half a dozen equally forgettable movies and depends on a string of increasingly implausible double-cross twists instead of generating its own innate dramatic tension. The apocalyptic bio-terror attack, an oddly amateurish scheme hatched by a handful of unhinged hardliners with poorly explained motives, is also fatally low on suspense. It even climaxes with one of those frantic race-against-time countdowns that long ago jumped the shark from action thriller staple to Austin Powers-level parody.

Rapace has the kick-ass moves, but her low-voltage performance is too waxy and blank for a lead role. Sporting tattoos and a man-bun, Bloom makes a comically off-target bid to rebrand himself as a Jason Statham-type hard man, barking cod-Dickensian lines in a cartoonish mockney accent that will grate with many Brit viewers. Meanwhile, Malkovich gives yet another of those withering, aloof, borderline-camp turns designed to let us know he is way too good for such lowbrow material. And yet he took the paycheck anyway.

Still, at least Douglas brings a dash of reliable old-school heft, even in this kind of late-career slumming role, while Collette radiates twinkly androgynous mischief with her peroxide punkette buzzcut and cut-glass English accent. At least somebody is having fun with this otherwise grindingly self-serious exercise in pedestrian pulp, which should have been much more of a guillty pleasure than it turned out to be.

To its credit, Unlocked delivers a smattering of modestly gripping action sequences and takes cameras into some of the shabby, impoverished, multi-racial corners of non-swinging London that are seldom seen onscreen. Admittedly, cheaper Prague locations stand in for London at times, but only eagle-eyed locals will spot the discrepancies. Bridesmaid finally becomes bride in the final coda, where Prague briefly gets to play itself, while Peter O’Brien’s open-ended screenplay makes a brazen pitch for a sequel. Dream on.

THIS REVIEW FROM: hollywoodreporter

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