(director: Martin Campbell; screenwriter: Richard Wenk; cinematographer: David Tattersall; editor: Angela M. Catanzaro; music: Rupert Parkes; cast: Michael Keaton(Rembrandt), Maggie Q (Anna), Samuel L. Jackson (Moody), Robert Patrick (Billy Boy), David Rintoul (Edward Hayes), Ray Fearon (Duquet), Gamba Cole (Benny), Patrick Malahide (Vohl); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: R; producers; Arthur M. Sarkissian, Moshe Diamant, Robert Van Norden, Yariv Lerner, Christopher Milburn: Lionsgate; 2021)
“Comes through with a bang on the action sequences.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A formulaic lady-assassin movie directed by Martin Campbell(“Casino Royale”/”The Foreigner”), the former Bond director. He comes through with a bang on the action sequences, in a film that was mostly shot in and around Bucharest, Romania to depict London. It misses on the narrative part by keeping it so unconvincing even if very familiar to the genre. The familiar hit man story is written with cliches and filled with plot holes by screenwriter Richard Wenk, the writer of “The Equalizer”. It comes off as a disposable film, with some entertainment value, as it does what’s expected of a mainstream thriller and seems self-satisfied to settle in as a so-so pulp B film.
Anna (Maggie Q) was rescued when held hostage during the Vietnam War as a child some thirty years ago by contract killer Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) and was raised by him to be a killer following his footsteps after he admired the way she killed all her mercenary captors. As a cover for her criminal behavior and to show her appreciation for literature, the cat-lover Anna clerks in a London bookstore carrying rare books. When Anna believes that Moody, who is aging and suffering from a tubercular cough, was rubbed out, she seeks revenge by going on the lam to Viet Nam to escape the killers after her and turns her attention on the snarky mysterious security expert she encounters there, named Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), a killer who could be either a friend or foe. She’s looking for answers to what happened to her mentor, who returned there looking for his illegitimate son who can’t be found.
In any case, the film never becomes suspenseful or coherent. It goes on in a predictable way, having no edge just a delightful Molly Q going gun-crazy like Nikita, a former volatile character she played, and Keating showing off his bad-ass acting chops to keep us from bailing on this jejune flick.
The film’s most memorable ridiculous scene has the Q character and the flirty Keating one, who is 27 years older, under a table in a restaurant, with their guns pointed at each other and one of the characters shouting out “Make up your mind: kill me or fuck me.”
REVIEWED ON 9/5/2021 GRADE: B-