If you throw in a myriad of twists and turns, and maintain a narrative whereby the viewer is never actually able to identify who they can trust and who they can’t – will that be enough make a piece of cinema entertaining? It’s a method that Michael Apted has executed, and the answer is no, it doesn’t. It may well add an element of fun, but in the case of this unashamedly overstated thriller, the flaws outweigh the irreverence.
Noomi Rapace plays Alice Racine, a CIA interrogator based in London, reluctant to return to work having felt responsible for letting a terrorist slip through her grasp, resulting in an attack in Paris, killing several civilians. But she is contracted by an agency that assign her to a case, where she must gather information about a plotted terrorist attack in London, as she liaises with colleagues (Michael Douglas, Toni Collette) to get to the bottom of the investigation and prevent the attack before it’s too late. With her boss (John Malkovich) breathing down her neck, when it transpires that the job invitation was actually a hoax, she doesn’t know who she can trust, ultimately deciding that rogue thief Jack (Orlando Bloom) is the only person she can rely on, as they work with, and against the law, to protect innocent lives.
The narrative is intriguing too, exploring pertinent themes, very much placed in a contemporary world, and the current war on terror – though by thriving in such a relatable landscape, it adds an element of responsibility to the filmmaker to adhere to the realism. When placed in the real world in quite this way, we then require other elements to be in line with that, and also be authentic, but this picture is completely absurd and unabashed in its dramatic tendencies that we carelessly deviate away from the very world its seeking to portray.
In this regard it bears uncanny similarities to Bastille Day (also about a thief on the run with a rogue agent in a bid to prevent a terrorist attack in a major European city) – both playful, overtly cinematic pictures steeped in relevant themes. There is a good film to be made about the current socio-political climate, it’s just these films aren’t it.
Unlocked is released on May 5th.