IT has been 18 years since Michael Apted directed the world’s most famous spy, James Bond, in The Word Is Not Enough.
Unlocked – out on DVD and Blu-ray on August 28 – sees Apted return to the spy genre with a film packed full of enough twists and turns to make M Night Shyamalan dizzy. A good thing or not? Not sure but Unlocked provides enough charm and action to make it an enjoyable watch.
Apted’s film follows CIA agent Alice Racine (Noomi Rapaze). Still troubled by a terror attack in Paris – which she holds herself accountable for failing to prevent – Alice is content collecting covert information at a local employment agency in London.
But a terrorist plot throws ‘stray’ Alice back into the heat of the action. With MI5, the CIA and terrorists groups tangled up in a dangerous web, Alice must go rogue and decipher who she can trust as she attempts to prevent a potentially devastating biological attack on London.
In the lead role, Rapaze delivers intensity to match Apted’s tension-filled and well-choreographed action scenes. This includes – during one smartly pieced together interrogation scene – Alice noticing her assassin screwing a silencer onto a gun through a foggy reflection. Then, minutes later, blazing two guns like Lara Croft, as she attempts to escape.
Rapaze is surrounded by an impressive supporting cast. John Malkovich, as CIA decision-maker Bob Hunter, and Michael Douglas, as wise mentor Eric Lasch, are typically engaging in their limited time on-screen.
The two also provide many light-hearted moments (this film does not pretend to be Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or Bourne). Whether it is Bob getting agitated with his MI5 equivalent Emily Knowles (Toni Collette) during a video call, or Eric referencing Lethal Weapon’s Roger Murtaugh with the line: ‘I’m getting too old for this shit!”
Orlando Bloom’s appearance as tattooed, wise-cracking criminal Jack Alcott will divide opinion. His injection into the story is forced and somewhat bizarre, but pays off in amusing enough fashion to be redeeming – at least in my forgiving mood.
For all of Unlocked’s many twists, the most surprising is the film’s inversion of terrorist typecasts. Without delving too far into spoiler territory, the blame lies in more ambiguous hands than the groups usually tarred by the terrorist brush.
This type of stereotype reversal, I expect, will be more common in the coming years of Trumpian politics. Tellingly, a photo of Barack Obama looms large over Bob in one scene.
In typical Bond fashion, Unlocked has the action and misdirects to leave you shaken, but it lacks the substance to stir up any lasting emotions.
For fans of television shows like Spooks, Unlocked will make for fairly light and comforting viewing.
On that basis, trust no one and – most importantly – just have fun.
Unlocked is available on Blu-ray, DVD and Download on August 28
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