Film review: Survivor (12A, 94 mins)

Survivor: Pierce Brosnan
Survivor: Pierce Brosnan
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Brosnan pines for Bond days

Pierce Brosnan’s glory days as suave secret agent James Bond are a long and distant memory, which grows considerably fonder with each improbable twist and turn in Survivor.

Originally entitled Alchemy, James McTeigue’s explosive-laden spy thriller uses the covert war on terrorism since the September 11 attacks as a wobbly framework for a predictable game of cat and mouse between a fearless US agent and a sadistic assassin on the streets of London.

Brosnan sheds his nice guy persona to play the sharp-shooting villain, who “has had so much reconstructive surgery, nobody knows what he looks like”. It’s a throwaway line of dialogue to casually explain why the striking Irish actor can swan around the capital, leaving destruction and bullet-riddled bodies in his wake without fear of capture, while statuesque co-star Milla Jovovich is tracked by almost every CCTV camera.

Her ability to emerge unscathed from a hail of bullets during the film’s action sequences is one of many perplexing questions that remain unanswered by Philip Shelby’s flimsy script.

Director McTeigue, who previously razed London in the 2005 dystopian fantasy V For Vendetta, seems content to demolish a few more city blocks and ignore gaping holes in the plot.

Security expert Kate Abbott (Jovovich) is drafted to the US embassy in London by her mentor, Ambassador Maureen Crane (Angela Bassett), to identify visa applicants who pose a threat to homeland security.

Intuition tells Kate to look closer into Romanian doctor Emil Balan (Roger Rees), who wants to visit America to attend a medical conference.

She delays his visa application with the backing of section chief Sam Parker (Dylan McDermott) and investigates further, aided by four ambitious interns.

An elusive hit man known as The Watchmaker (Brosnan) is hired to eliminate Kate in order to expedite Balan’s visa application, which is part of a bigger plot to inflict massive damage on American soil.

The first attempt on Kate’s life fails and video evidence falsely implicates her in the terrorist atrocity.

Hunted by The Watchmaker and Inspector Paul Anderson (James D’Arcy), Kate defies embassy survival protocol to evade capture and defuse the terrorists’ hydrogen, methane and fluorine bomb.

Survivor is a generic battle of patriotic Americans versus nasty foreigners that casts Jovovich in her familiar role as a one-woman killing machine.

Set pieces are solid if unremarkable including bruising fistfights between the two leads and Brosnan’s fake ‘tache is appalling.


Star rating: 4/10