Survivor, a new espionage thriller starring Pierce Brosnan, has many flaws. The most pronounced one is obviousness. If you’ve seen a few conspiracy thrillers over the years, then you’ve seen the bits and pieces that have been cobbled together to form the narrative of this film. Meticulous hitman who makes watches/clocks by day? Check. An expert analyst who stumbles across a terrorist plot only to have her bosses doubt her judgment? Check. A boss who believes her and a bureaucrat who doesn’t? Check and check.
Kate Abbott (Milla Jovovich) is an intelligence operative working out of the American Embassy in London where she supervises the issuing of passports to international travelers attempting to enter the United States from Great Britain. Abbott notices an unsettling pattern concerning a batch of passports approved during the weeks preceding New Year’s Eve. When her superiors are unmoved by her revelations, she begins her own investigation into the backgrounds of the applicants. In short order, people start dying. Abbott goes on the run and yep (you guessed it), Abbott becomes the prime suspect in the killings. She must clear her name and foil the terrorists with no help from the government she so loyally serves.
Survivor is the kind of film where the master assassin can’t outsmart a desk jockey analyst and can’t hit a moving target twenty yards away when he’s given the opportunity. The script is filled with amateurish dialogue that provides moments of inadvertent laughter. Abbott’s employers track her whereabouts as she runs rogue, and her ID tracker reveals her location. In case you can’t see the big high tech screen flashing the words “New York”, a major character shouts, “She’s in New York!” As the terrorists arrive at the site of their attack, they roll down their van window when a police officer asks them for their “paperwork”. Uh, sure officer, I have my tax returns, a few of my mom’s best recipes and a McDonald’s receipt. Did you want any “paperwork” in particular?
Brosnan, who has made a career out of playing suave, cultured leading men, is given little to do by the rudimentary script. He tries to appear menacing, but mostly seems bored. He appears on screen for less than 20 minutes. Survivor has all the earmarks of a paycheck film for the former Double Oh Seven.
The other cast members (including Dylan McDermott and Angela Bassett) try to flog some life into this inert thriller with no success. Implausibilities pile on top of coincidences, and the film becomes more ridiculous with each passing moment. When all is revealed and the audience learns the endgame of the terrorist’s scheme, it’s howlingly laughable. Suffice it to say, you don’t need some international man of mystery master marksman to pull off this mission. The phrase “broad side of a barn” comes to mind, but I won’t spoil the end of Survivor just in case you choose to ignore my advice to avoid this film.
The Movie Isle
Scott Phillips holds a degree in print journalism from the University of Georgia and is currently a member of the Georgia Film Critics Association (GAFCA). In addition to his role as a correspondent for Timed Edition, Scott serves as the Executive Editor and Senior Writer for themovieisle.com. From 2013 through 2017, he reviewed films for filmdispenser.com. Along with his duties as a critic, Scott serves as the Content Programmer for the Way Down Film Festival held in Columbus, Georgia every fall.