In director James McTeigue’s latest film, the laughably implausible Survivor, Milla Jovovich plays Kate Abbott, a Foreign Service Officer whose loss of friends on 9/11 forces her to become the best at sniffing out terrorist plots before they happen. Having recently located to London (because they wanted “the best”), Abbott is immediately thrust into some serious bureaucratic shenanigans that quickly escalate into, you guessed it, a terrorist plot that somehow manages to pin several crimes on her as she flees the streets of London searching for the truth.
The reason Abbott’s running, however, is that she’s being hunted by the police and, what’s worse, a fixer named Nash (Pierce Brosnan), aka “The Watchmaker.” And while he’s clearly a professional killer of the highest order, Nash just can’t seem to whack Abbott who apparently is either the luckiest person alive when it comes to nearly missed bombs and gunfire, or she has cat ancestry granting her nine lives. Either way, Survivor is a pretty lame and frankly boring thriller that piles on one messy plot twist onto another and has more 9/11 scare analogies than Rudy Giuliani when he’s running for office.
While we’ve undoubtedly come a long way in terms of accepting video-on-demand titles as often times more worthy than those with the previously scarlet lettered “Direct to DVD” moniker, it’s pretty clear something is off in this film from the get-go when you look at the cast and budget. Along with the aforementioned Brosnan and Jovovich, the film also features Dylan McDermott as Kate’s loyal boss Sam Parker, Angela Bassett as frazzled U.S. Ambassador Maureen Crane, and James D’Arcy as Paul Anderson who is a cop or secret service … or something? All I know for sure is he wears an earpiece and he’s really got it in for Abbott. But much like the bloodthirsty Watchmaker, he just can’t seem to slow her down. The cast is solid and recognizable yet the film was obviously dumped into the overcrowded VOD landscape, never to be heard from again.
It’s very cheap looking, too. Every actor here (save Robert Forster, poor guy) looks like they’re either suffocating under five pounds of facial makeup or they were recreated out of wax and automated — it’s as if there was a Botox party during preproduction and things got out of hand. Adding on to that distraction is director McTeigue’s insistence on always having the camera move. Survivor is a film in which the camera moves and moves and moves and, as a result, every sequence looks like something out of a luxury car commercial. Gaudy, overly stylized lighting also doesn’t help much either. But alas, nothing can help a film that doesn’t really know what it’s about and that is ultimately what dooms Survivor.