It’s not too hard to see why Survivor went direct-to-video and in spite of the best efforts of a (mostly) respectable cast and some decent direction from the director, the screenplay needed a few more passes to iron out the plot and, in particular, the characters who are laughably thinly written and just laughable all around. This movie is destined for the dump bin and with a few cuts, will air on Spike TV one day.
Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller, Action
Millennium Entertainment | PG13 – 96 min. – $24.99 | June 23, 2015
THE MOVIE – 2.0/5
There are stupid good and idiotically stupid movies. Take a gander where Survivor lies? Let’s just say, there’s a good reason a movie with a respectable enough cast went from a limited released to direct-to-video…
Our story opens in Afghanistan where an Apache chopper is gunned down during a mission leaving its two soldiers in the hands of terrorists who, after checking out who each one is through some sort of online database, brutally burn them alive.
Some months later we are introduced to Foreign Service officer Kate Abbott (MILLA JOVOVICH) working in the American embassy in London. She’s been brought in to oversee the Visa application process, sniffing out potential terrorists attempting to get into the U.S. for obviously nefarious purposes. She suspects her supervisor, Bill Talbot (ROBERT FORSTER), of pushing the visas through but her extracurricular investigation not only rubs her superiors, including the U.S. ambassador (ANGELA BASSETT), the wrong way but making the terrorists antsy, especially getting a specialty chemist (ROGER REES) through.
To eliminate the threat, world renowned assassin named Nash aka the Watchmaker (PIERCE BROSNAN), is hired to plant a bomb at a restaurant Abbott and her colleagues will be eating at in celebration for Talbot’s birthday, a dinner Talbot is late for and Abbott for her part conveniently leaves to pick up a gift from a shop across the street. After the blast, she’s knocked down but manages to survive with cuts and scratches and as she walks in the street to get help, Nash is there surprised she’s still alive and attempts to finish the job; this will become a ridiculous pattern making one question just how good of an assassin Nash really is…
When Abbott goes to a nearby park as per protocol in these situations, Talbot is also there and, like Nash, tries to kill her and, unlike Nash, nearly succeeds until Abbott, in a struggle for the gun, accidentally shoots and kills Talbot… all in front of cell phone cameras as she’s holding the gun (think of the standing over the body with weapon in hand cliché).
With that damning evidence, Abbott goes on the run with not only her boss, Sam Parker (DYLAN MCDERMOTT), on her trail but United Kingdom Inspector Paul Anderson (JAMES D’ARCY) hunting her down and with the mess and dead bodies she leaves behind, as Nash also is tracking her, even the ambassador gives permission for Anderson to do whatever it takes to eliminate her. At the same time, with the help of a couple remaining friends on the inside, Abbott must uncover the terrorist conspiracy set to take place in New York City before it’s too late.
Alright, Survivor is a dumb movie. It’s that simple. On the surface, with director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, The Raven), it’s not a bad looking movie and honestly, some of the action scenes were perfectly adequate, save for a couple shots, one of which finds Brosnan’s stunt double sliding down a light string in a stairwell (think The Bourne Identity); it was so laughable and awkwardly edited to show Brosnan’s face every other cut.
While I can’t blame the cast all that much, save for agreeing to appear with such a bad script, none of them are particularly bad or anything yet cannot overcome the shortcomings of the screenplay which was written by Philip Shelby in his first (credited) film and also has the Mechanic: Resurrection coming out next year. In any case, Milla Jovovich makes for a perfectly fine action heroine but her character is so out of her elements, how she escapes from a supposedly skilled assassin is remarkable.
Speaking of which, Pierce Brosnan. What are you doing? His Nash character has to be one of the lamest and all around worst assassins, taken seriously anyway, put to screen. He’s unable to hit the broad side of a barn and despite being smart enough to use a tracking chip in Abbott’s badge, manages to fumble the job before, and I’m serious, when asked if he had taken care of her, merely lies because, I guess, was just tired of chasing after her. All of this occurs in and around one of the most monitored cities in the world, a place with cameras on every street corner. Oh, and that mustache, it shows up twice and then goes away. Not sure if it was a continuity error or what, but those two scenes were distracting as all hell.
The supporting cast, like with Brosnan, are mostly wasted with one-dimensional characters. Dylan McDermott plays Abbott’s most staunch ally in spite of the evident piling up against her, though when you watch the deleted scenes, it makes sense as the two are lovers. Angela Bassett makes an appearance or two as a two-faced ambassador who was apparently Abbott’s mentor. Robert Forster has a small but significant role, unfortunately he doesn’t get much to work with either.
In the end, I was disappointed with Survivor, though not surprised it was a dud. It was a project floating around for several years initially starting out at Sony before moving to Millennium where it originally was set for a limited theatrical run before, from what I can tell, got scrapped and released direct to video and it’s easy to see why.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
This release comes with a glossy slip cover.
The features are rather basic with a behind-the-scenes Featurette (5:25; HD) with the interviews by the cast and crew and a set of Deleted Scenes (10:39; HD).
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Survivor shoots its way onto Blu-ray through Millennium Entertainment and show with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture quality is rather notable with sharp detail levels throughout and a fine balance in colors which jump off the screen well enough. There were no noticeable blemishes, though I did observe some banding early on, like overt amount of grain, appearing to be a clean transfer that is pleasant on the eyes.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
From the opening sequence, involving a chopper crash in war zone Afghanistan, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track comes roaring to life with amazing depth between the gunfire and explosions; it’s an impressive start. The remainder of the movie doesn’t disappoint with clear dialogue levels while the occasional action scenes, including the restaurant bombing, provide for the right boom that encompasses the room rather than merely being loud. It’s a rather remarkable lossless track and one of the few pluses for this release.
OVERALL – 2.25/5
Overall, it’s not too hard to see why Survivor went direct-to-video and in spite of the best efforts of a (mostly) respectable cast and some decent direction from the director, the screenplay needed a few more passes to iron out the plot and, in particular, the characters who are laughably thinly written and just laughable all around. This movie is destined for the dump bin and with a few cuts, will air on Spike TV one day.
The Blu-ray release offers good/great audio and video transfers while the bonus features are much to be desired.
Brian Oliver aka The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.