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Survivor (2015)

Pierce Brosnan pointing a gun at the camera in Survivor
Pierce Brosnan as Not James Bond
Mmm, who's that on the poster of Survivor? It looks like Pierce Brosnan, starring in a spy film,  wearing a smart suit, holding a gun and looking a bit like you-know-who. Maybe it's Brosnan back being a cool British spy, dispatching villains and throwing off cheesy one-liners like Goldeneye was only yesterday! Or maybe not. The disappointing news is that, despite the obvious preference of the distributors, Brosnan is not the star of Survivor. The worse news is that the actual star is Milla Jovovich.

In Survivor, Jovovich plays a high flying American agent who deals with passports or visas or something. She gets seconded to the US embassy in London where she sits looking at a computer screen all day deciding who gets to go to the US and who doesn't. One day she doesn't like the look of a Romanian doctor (Roger Rees) who claims he's going to the US for a conference. At the urging of her colleague (Robert Forster), she eventually relents and lets him through. But the Romanian doctor thinks she's trouble and arranges for her to be dealt with.

Pierce Brosnan as The Watchmaker
Brosnan as The Watchmaker: assassinations 
and watch repairs while-u-wait
His contacts call in a feared hit man, “The Watchmaker”, played by none other than Pierce Brosnan. One of Jovovich's own colleagues attempts to bump her off as well, but he is accidentally killed himself, leaving her holding the murder weapon, Roger Thornhill style, in front of camera phone-toting witnesses. She then has to go on the run, pursued by Brosnan's assassin and the British police, who now think she's a murderer and a terrorist. Her own side are conflicted, with some helping, including her boss Dylan McDermott and a colleague (Frances de la Tour with a surprisingly ropey American accent), while the US ambassador (Angela Bassett) wants her eliminated. At the same time, Jovovich has stumbled on a plan to set off a bomb in Times Square on New Year's Eve. So Survivor unexpectedly resurrects the classic (or clichéd) double chase, or perhaps triple chase, beloved of Hitchcock, as the bad guys, the police and her embassy boss all try to get to Jovovich first.


Film poster for Survivor (2015)
Guess which of these is
the actual star of Survivor
Survivor turns out to be a routine, straight-to-video type effort, with a misleadingly high powered cast. Pierce Brosnan does at least get to play a bad guy for a change, but he is also the source of much of the film's unintentional humour. The script attempts to build him up as one of the world's most dangerous assassins, but he is so incompetent that he's more reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon. Instead of pushing someone in front of a bus or train, so as not to arouse too much suspicion, Brosnan first uses a bomb in a packed restaurant to try and kill his victim. After fumbling that, he then somehow fails to shoot her when she's standing right in front of him. This is just the beginning of his litany of failed murder attempts, all with the aid of equipment which was presumably purchased from the Acme Corporation. The one briefly tense scene in the film comes when Brosnan bursts into the apartment where Jovovich is holed up and begins stalking her while she hides. But the film then ruins it with a silly James Bond-ish stunt where Brosnan slides down a series of light fittings shooting at Jovovich … and, of course, still misses.

Milla Jovovich pointing a gun
Milla Jovovich: Serious acting face
The fact that the premise revolves around trying to keep the wrong people out of the USA makes it moderately topical. It's also a distinctly post-financial crash storyline, as those behind the bomb plot are not terrorists but financial speculators. But the script is silly and implausible and Jovovich is just not a very interesting actress. Despite a better than it deserves supporting cast, Survivor is an implausible, derivative and strictly routine effort, and its attempts to link its storyline and characters to 9/11 and contemporary terrorism are wildly misjudged.

Survivor

Year: 2015
Genre: Thriller, Action, Spy film
Country: USA
Director James McTeigue

Cast Milla Jovovich (Kate Abbot), Pierce Brosnan (Nash, "The Watchmaker"), Dylan McDermott (Sam Parker), Angela Bassett (Maureen Crane), Robert Forster (Bill Talbot), James D'Arcy (Paul Anderson), Frances de la Tour (Sally), Paddy Wallace (Johnny Talbot), Parker Sawyers (Ray), Rege-Jean Page (Robert Purvell), Jing Lusi (Joyce Su), Antonia Thomas (Naomi Rosenbaum), Sean Teale (Alvin Murdock), Roger Rees (Emil Balan)

Screenplay Philip Shelby  Producers Irwin Winkler, Charles Winkler, Matthew O’Toole, Les Weldon  Cinematography Danny Ruhlmann  Production design Max Gottlieb  Editor Kate Baird  Music Ilan Eshkeri

Running time 96 mins
Production company Nu Image, Winkler Films, Millennium Films  Distributor Alchemy (US), Lionsgate (UK)


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