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22nd August 2017

Biological Terror Knows No Borders

It’s interesting to find a movie that has such big stars and yet, seems to have passed everyone by, flown under the radar. Usually there’s a reason for this, let’s see what it is with Unlocked.

Unlocked sees Swedish Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) as a CIA agent working in London helping MI5.

Australian, Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine, Muriel’s Wedding), plays her MI5 boss with Englishman, Orlando Bloom playing a Brit who isn’t quite as he first appears.

We also have, Michael Douglas (Ant-Man, Falling Down), and John Malkovich (Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, RED) as the American CIA heads of whatever department.

Rapace is brought in to interrogate a messenger that’s been picked up. It’s thought he has a message that will trigger a biological attack somewhere, killing innocent people.

But in one of many twists and turns, the people who pick her up aren’t who they say, and now she is in a race against time to stop an attack and discover who she can trust and who she can’t.

So, back to my original question. Why has this movie, filled with stars as it is, seemingly passed the cinema-going public by?

Could it be the delicate subject matter given these heightened times we live in? A story about a biological terrorist attack is not going to be something people will flock to given recent events in Paris, London and Barcelona.

That is mostly likely part of it. However, I’d also add that these days, when it comes to action or thrillers, we’re spoilt for choice.

Despite Unlocked being directed by Michael Apted (The World Is Not Enough, Gorillas In The Mist) the film fails to bring any real sense of urgency or danger.

Writer Peter O’Brien (writer of Halo: Reach (video game)), is too formulaic in his approach and therefore we’re left with a movie filled with clichés that people just don’t want to see anymore.

Instead of Rapace, or the bad-guys for that matter, killing people when they have the chance, they stand around and talk to them for ten minutes. Then allow themselves to be ‘caught off-guard’.

This is the sort of story-telling I thought, hoped, we’d left behind in the 80’s and 90’s. We have things like John Wick and Atomic Blonde now. Characters who don’t hesitate, don’t wait for a back story, just pull the trigger.

This, you get the feeling, is much more realistic – such as it can be anyway. Why would you stand around, asking a dangerous criminal about their motives, twice, particularly when there’s a bomb ticking down?

The casting feels off, by some margin. It is as if Hollywood point-blankly refuses to allow a Brit to play a good-guy, even when the film is set in the British Secret Service.

But more than this, everyone just seems to be going through the motions. Rapace and Douglas appear bored and Bloom is about as menacing as a child in a hockey-mask.

Collette is wasted with a paper-thin character and Malkovich looks like he’s having a laugh, doing his thing without a care in the world. But again, he’s a walking cliché of a character.

I’m not sure where the makers of the film were trying to pitch this. A sort of Borne? Bond? It misses the mark. Perhaps ten-years ago we’d have lapped it up but now, despite a current story, it feels dated already.

Unlocked is out on DVD, Blu-ray and Download from 28th August.

It's interesting to find a movie that has such big stars and yet, seems to have passed everyone by, flown under the radar. Usually there's a reason for this, let's see what it is with Unlocked.

5th May 2017

Michael Apted

Peter O'Brien

Running Time:
1h 38min


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