No one ever said that a film has to be Nolan era cryptic to be appreciated. But that doesn't mean there should be a critical lapse in logic either. In the wake of increasing terror attacks around the world, Survivor might have timing on its side but precious little else when viewed as a straight-up action thriller.
A bulk of that problem lies with the severely disjointed story of a girl that cried wolf. That girl is Foreign Service Officer Kate Abbott (Mila Jovovich), newly stationed at the American Embassy in London. Abbott comes with an impressive resume but despite her commendable experience in profiling terror suspects, can't seem to convince her boss and Ambassador to the UK (Angela Bassett) that certain visa applicants to the United States have diabolical motives. One such applicant is a Romanian doctor who calls The Watchmaker (Pierce Brosnan), an accomplice and hit-man, to eliminate Abbott. Their plan – bomb a restaurant she's dinning at. Of course, Abbott survives, and just minutes later, appears to have killed an embassy official thanks to social media. It's the first of several laughable face-palm moments. Now going from the frying pan into the fire, Abbott is targeted by British authorities, American authorities and The Watchmaker himself, before trying to single-handedly foil a massive terror attack on US soil.
By now you must have noticed a string of inconsistencies that are not only illogical but absurd. Why would a skilled hit-man blow up a restaurant just to kill an unarmed office worker with no field experience? With CCTV coverage at every nook and cranny in London, why would the US Embassy implicate one of its own without a shred of evidence? As an Embassy officer with diplomatic immunity, why is Abbott hiding? Even if there are justifiable theories to those questions, nothing can prepare you for the ludicrous nature of how the entire story is penned. Pacing is an even bigger issue coming from James McTeigue, the same director responsible for the fantastic V For Vendetta. Except for Abbott's unbelievable escapes every time The Watchmaker strikes, the rest of the film comprises of time filling goose chases from one plot point to another. It doesn't register and neither does Brosnan's villain who goes from brutal to clumsy in direct reference to the title.
Documenting a movie experience is never easy when you have certain expectations, only to be let down by poor execution, lazy scripting and wooden performances. At best, Survivor is a film with a bunch of talented actors struggling to bring out an honorable tribute to law enforcement agencies thwarting terror attacks since 9/11. Although that message is intrepid, the film isn't and anyone watching this film won't remember what it stands for.
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