Thursday, 11 May 2017

Unlocked (aka Codice Unlocked)

Cell, Book and Fanned Hell

Unlocked (aka Codice Unlocked)
UK 2017 Directed by Michael Apted
UK cinema release print.

Well this movie came out of the blue. I wasn’t aware of this one until I literally saw a trailer for it a few weeks ago at the cinema. So... one of my favourite modern actresses, Noomi Rapace (the original Lisbeth  Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, reviewed here), in a modern action thriller full of espionage and conspiracies was something I wasn’t going to let pass me by. Imagine my delight, then, to find that the director of this modern day spy yarn is none other than Michael Apted, who had done three really great similarly styled pictures I’d seen years back... the absolutely cracking adaptation of Gorky Park, the charming World War II thriller Enigma and the last great James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough (reviewed here). I wasn’t expecting to be too disappointed in this one and, sure enough, I wasn’t.

Even carrying a truly boring and generic title which I managed to forget even while I was ordering a ticket, Unlocked is exactly the kind of twisty, turny thriller I was hoping for. Now, I would be lying if I said there weren’t a few little disappointing things about it but the main take away here is that it’s a very slick, polished action piece which pitches the lead actress, Rapace, as CIA interrogator Alice Racine, into a deadly game of survival among the Muslim community at the heart of London and a suspected, deadly biological attack that will cause mass devastation as a germ more lethal than Ebola is fanned and dispersed into the air in a hotel full of Americans... who will then carry the disease back to their home soil.

And, since nothing in these kinds of films is ever easy, it’s not long before Alice finds that she is tip toeing through a dance of death as various interested parties, working both within and without her own organisation, hunt her down for the knowledge she has obtained thus far before her job went pear shaped as she tries to figure out who she can trust to help her try to find out what’s really going on before the virus is unleashed... or, you know... ‘unlocked’, I suppose.

And the cast are all absolutely excellent and that’s exactly what you would expect from this lot. We have Rapace who is, of course, absolutely always watchable in pretty much anything she’s in... even if the film is bad she always brings so much to it. She’s more than ably supported by the likes of Michael Douglas, Toni Collette and John Malkovich as well as what was, as far as I'm concerned, a surprisingly brilliant turn from Orlando Bloom who is... well he’s not playing the kind of role I would usually associate with him from such films as the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, I’ll tell you that much. Everyone is knocking the ball out of the park here and they are more than matched by a very smooth and competently put together movie which doesn’t make the mistake of editing things to buggery so you can’t fathom out what’s going on in the action sequences. Apted’s direction ensures all the fast paced action sequences are adequately covered and everything fits together smoothly... so like I said, Apted and his capable crew are certainly delivering what you’d expect from them here.

If I was disappointed by anything on this one it’s the fact that, although the story is quite twisty and turny, it’s also very predictable. The first little twist, 20 or so minutes into the movie, is something I might not have figured out if the studio hadn’t decided to reveal it in the trailer campaign but all the other twists which come after it are, honestly, quite basic and no amount of ‘staged’ red herrings could throw me off the scent. Which is a shame, I have to say but... yeah, in terms of plotting there are absolutely no surprises in here so... there’s that.

However, that being said, it’s still an absolute pleasure to see this kind of thing working like the well oiled machine it is even if, you know, the product may seem a little too smooth for some of the grittier subject matter in the plot. Apted keeps up a sense of menace with certain characters throughout and I’m pleased to say that, although the story holds no surprises, there were a few moments involving the deaths of civilians of various ages which I really wasn’t expecting to be happening in this movie. One of the stronger messages of this piece is that... innocent people get killed in the pursuit of justice and this is something which, despite the shiny veneer of the mise en scene, I’m happy Apted chose not to gloss over. So... a kind of well presented, polished up rawness, then, perhaps.

I’d have to say that Unlocked is not a movie I could probably repeat watch. One viewing is enough for me on this one but, I have to say, it was a very entertaining first viewing and I would certainly recommend this to anyone looking for a top notch thriller to put into their cinema schedule.... because that’s exactly what this is. A great little movie with some intrigue, loss, sacrifice, betrayal and, ultimately, a kick ass heroine taking on the system that put her where she is at the start of the film and bringing the audience along with her. If you like your action movies with a strong moral centre which doesn’t take the obvious route of blaming a specific religion for all the atrocities which are going on today... then this movie is for you.

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