Directed by James McTeigue. Produced by Charles Winkler and Irwin Winkler. Written by Philip Shelby. Release date: May 29, 2015.
Today’s entry in the category of rejected Bourne scripts that have been retrofitted into an unrelated, standalone VOD movie: Survivor. This one sees Milla Jovovich and Pierce Brosnan play a game of cat and mouse around the world. That might sound like a pretty fun idea – the idea of James Bond squaring off against Resident Evil‘s Alice – but it turns out to be little more than an excuse to re-use beats from other, better spy movies. I don’t know if there’s a moment of originality in Survivor.
Jovovich plays an American Foreign Service Officer who transfers to London in order to try to stop terrorists from attaining visas in order to enter America. But, soon enough, she’s framed for a crime that she didn’t commit, and winds up on the run not only from the agency for whom she was working, but also an assassin, The Watchmaker (Brosnan), who is hired by terrorists to blow some things up, and also kill Jovovich’s character. Jovovich has to prove her innocence in addition to stopping the terrorist threat.
Have you tuned out yet? I think I might have done that had I read what I just wrote before seeing Survivor. This is as generic a plot as one can craft. It’s so bland that I honestly cannot remember the name of Jovovich’s character, and she matters so little that it’s not even worth the time to look the name up. The poster lists a whole cast of relatively prolific actors whose characters are complete nonentities. Seriously, look at the cast. The likes of Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett and James D’Arcy are in this, and they’re so forgettable that I am having to actively try to recall whether they’re heroes or villains. Sure, none of those are exactly big names, but they’re known commodities who have been relegated to nothing roles.
If a robot – or an automated algorithm, if you will – were to make a post-9/11 spy movie, it would look very much like Survivor does.
What about Jovovich and Brosnan? Well, the former runs around a bunch while in a panic and the latter blows up some things and wrings a neck or two. This isn’t the type of film that requires much in the way of acting – and, really, neither is that great of an actor. Jovovich is one of the better action heroines, but her dramatic roles leave a lot to be desired. Brosnan, having almost killed the James Bond franchise, seems unable to give up playing a spy, but now in his early 60s should probably start considering it. When was the last time he was any good?
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Survivor is that it’s been directed by James McTeigue, who continues career suicide with another really poor entry into his filmography. McTeigue, you may remember, made his directorial debut with V for Vendetta, which is still a great film. Since then, though, he did Ninja Assassin, which was only moderately entertaining, The Raven, which was atrocious, and now Survivor, which is also really bad. Where did all the potential he showcased with V for Vendetta disappear to? How many more chances will he get? Will Survivor put an end to his directorial career? Sadly, these questions are all more interesting to think about than anything brought up in Survivor. In fact, think about them for just over 90 minutes and you’ll still have used your time better than had you spent a few dollars and sat through this movie.
So, what do we wind up getting from Survivor? A terribly generic plot, mediocre-at-best acting with characters that do very little, action scenes that you’ve seen in countless spy thrillers over the years, and very little in terms of entertainment value. If a robot – or an automated algorithm, if you will – were to make a post-9/11 spy movie, it would look very much like Survivor does. Let us hope that these types of robots do not begin to dominate the filmmaking industry. Unless they already have, and Survivor is going to act as a litmus test to determine whether or not us humans will accept them. Well, probable robot overlords, we do not accept them. Now please don’t vaporize me.
Bottom Line: Survivor is as generic and boring as they come.
Recommendation: If you liked the Bourne movies … just go watch those again. (Except Legacy, of course; Legacy sucks.) Survivor is not worth your time.[rating=1.5]