Review – Unlocked
My favourite thing about Unlocked – the new perplexingly well-cast espionage action-thriller from veteran director Michael Apted – is the title. Someone really must have thrown a dart at the wall to come up with that one, because as far as I can tell Unlocked isn’t about unlocking anything – except, that is, the prison cell where we should be keeping Orlando Bloom to ensure he never delivers a performance like this one again.
Still, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Unremarkable reunites us with Noomi Rapace, a specialist in playing emotionally-lacerated heroines, and here sees her as Alice Racine, a tearaway youth turned CIA interrogator who has been traumatized out of field work by a terrorist attack she failed to prevent. Luckily she’s going to get a second attempt: thanks to a dastardly imam, some trademark inter-agency double-crossing and our reliable chums at ISIS, London is on the brink of a biological attack that only Alice can stop. And thus, we have a movie.
It must be said that the role of badass, rule-bending, brooding super-spy does feel fresher in a woman’s hands, but it’s a victory for casting parity more than storytelling competency, because a character this stale starts to fester after only a few scenes. Luckily the early ones are the best that Uninteresting has to offer; one of them, a grounded lo-fi interrogation during which Alice learns that her higher-ups (including a sleepwalking Michael Douglas as her Agency minder and John Malkovich as a typically Malkovichian CIA station chief) might not be telling the whole truth, actually suggests a much better movie than we ultimately get.
That isn’t to say that Unnecessary is strictly terrible, though. In fact, I’m quite surprised at how enjoyable I found it, especially considering that Orlando Bloom turns up after a while as a tattooed East End cat burglar who seems to be auditioning for a high school re-enactment of Snatch. Whatever he’s doing here – and, frankly, the more I think about it, the less sense it makes – serves mostly to remind you of what’s actually working – namely the all-business lead performance from Rapace, an enjoyable turn from Toni Collette as an MI5 spook with a machine gun and a platinum hairdo, and Tosin Cole as an extremely likeable young chap who Alice has taken under her wing as part of her cover as a social worker.
There’s only so much you can reasonably expect from a movie like this, and Unbreakable mostly delivers it. The hemmed-in location work and reserved action sequences are obviously indicative of budgetary limitations, with a lot of the action taking place in wholly unspectacular offices and stairwells, but Rapace proves herself a capable kinetic performer. The film has vigour and attacks its rote material with enthusiasm, and while its heroine is deserving of a flashier vehicle, this one still runs. It’s the second-hand Volvo of medium-budget actioners.
Towards the end, Unintentional rather optimistically opens itself up for a sequel, one which would presumably further chronicle the adventures of Alice Racine. Will this film produce enough commercial interest to get that kind of project greenlit?
I’m guessing that’s Unlikely.
Enjoyed reading this review? Then you will probably like listening to us too so check out our podcast