Nothing becomes this twisty thriller as much as its end. No villain reanimates for a final flourish; no triple-reverse plot revelation makes mincemeat of things; no shadowy figure edges into view to signal a possible sequel. Narrative dignity, at last! If only the preceding two hours were equally accomplished. The story, a funhouse of political & corporate skullduggery, gives good weight, as does solid Liam Neeson, who must be surprised to find himself, in his late-50s, taking the action-figure baton from Steve McQueen & Charles Bronson. But megger Jaume Collet-Serra shows little affinity or gamesmanship for the form. He does well enough when he sticks us in the driver’s seat, but the rest of the action set pieces don’t ‘read’ properly. Even a simple fight scene is beyond him, and the mix-master editing more of a cover-up than anything in the plot. Still, there’s reasonable fun watching a gaggle of genres getting mashed-up as we hop from amoral spy rings to identity theft & amnesia; there’s even an old East German STASI spy to sympathize with. That’s new!* And nicely played by Bruno Ganz. Which is more than can be said for the cold-blooded perf from January Jones or the decision to hold back on the Big Reveal until halfway thru the third act.
DOUBLE-BILL: The screenwriters may have had Harrison Ford’s THE FUGITIVE/’93 meets THE BOURNE IDENTITY/’02 in mind as a suspense-thriller template. But MIRAGE/’65, a lesser-known Gregory Peck pic from a Howard Fast novel (helmed by Edward Dmytryk/scripted by Peter Stone), has lots of similar elements in it.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Actually, it’s not new, it’s the lead character in the superb THE LIVES OF OTHERS/’06. But that’s not a piece of Pop entertainment.