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    Survivor (2015): Movie Review

    "Promising but inconsistent."

    The 9/11 tragedy is one of the most horrible events in modern history and this served as inspiration for James McTeigue’s latest action spy thriller film called Survivor. In this movie, Milla Jovovich stars as Kate Abbott, a Foreign Service Officer whose bitter memories of 9/11 urged her to take part in any action that prevents terrorist plots into fruition. Playing her main nemesis is Pierce Brosnan as Nash “The Watchmaker,” a skilled pay-to-hire bomb expert. 

    The film opens quite promisingly with two American soldiers being caught in Afghanistan after surviving a helicopter crash. Though this scene has that videogame-like quality with its minimal and poor setting, this sets off an interesting premise. Using their dog tags, one of the men is identified as a potential bargaining card. 

    Several months later, the US embassy in London becomes more rigorous in approving visas to foreigners. Kate Abbott, the embassy’s new officer who is watching out for gas and chemical specialists, quickly suspects visiting Romanian doctor Emil Balan (Roger Rees). Unknown to her, her office colleague Bill Talbot (Robert Forster) is one of the bad guys and he and Emil are connected to some terrorist force. Immediately, Kate Abbott becomes a target, particularly by “The Watchmaker.”

    Survivor has certain predictability which surprisingly works in its advantage. Right from the start, the enemies are already known and their sudden presence in any scene excites tension and anticipation. The doubts and suspicions against Kate by some US and British officers also provides that much needed conflict to make the movie more thrilling.

    The bomb scene, the enemies’ first attack, is quite intense and horrifying. Incidentally, Kate is out somewhere and thus survives the blast. This sets off a string of cat-and-mouse chases. In the process, Kate becomes victim to social media charade as she is filmed holding a gun while an enemy bleeds to death. After being hunted by both the good and the bad, in the end, Kate succeeds in thwarting a terrorist attack in New York City. 

    Survivor has a tight story and fast pacing. So much action and drama happened in a span of only one and half hours, leaving us breathless and motionless. Like a Jack Higgins’ novel, the movie revolves around a small cast, particularly around Kate and The Watchmaker. However, this approach leaves the film with too little dimensions. While actions center on the two main characters, all other figures appear vague and inconsistent, making us doubtful of their motivations. For one, there is no clear background on the terrorist group – how large it is and how influential its people are. One thing for certain is that they are ambitious and possess the required knowledge and technology. It is also unclear whether the British officers running after Kate are connected with the enemies or they are simply assholes.

    Much of the film is also built on coincidence and instinct. It is instinct that Kate located the enemies and their allies. It is coincidence that she survived the bomb explosion and found out about their big plot. Some scenes are also unconvincing and unrealistic (probably due to budget limitations). The New York finale, contrary to the previous sequences, is too laid back. The human traffic is light and security in the Square is just too loose that the terrorists easily penetrated the area. In a disappointing way, the film ends too abruptly with Kate throwing The Watchmaker off the building rooftop. 

    Survivor, like its generic title, is too forgettable. Despite being built on an intriguing proposition, it has not delivered the expected output. While its middle part is absolutely thrilling, its conclusion is a huge anticlimax. Thankfully, editing has been done well that the movie appears grander than it really is. Director McTeigue’s masterpiece remains to be his 2006 epic comic adaptation V for Vendetta.



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