Unlocked Review

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In a politically tumultuous time, cinema as an art-form has something of a responsibility to reflect society, as it always had done. It’s what deems films like Unlocked important – as director Michael Apted casts an eye over the modern war on terror, and the anxiety that derives from a major capital city which is always under threat of attack. But an important film does not necessarily equate to a good one – and this badly-written, poorly acted and quite spectacularly overstated production ensures that its pertinence is pretty much it’s only selling point.

Alice Racine (Noomi Rapace) works for the CIA as an interrogator, though loses her passion for her vocation having failed to identify a suspect as a terrorist, letting him go free before he killed innocent civilians in a Paris attack. Now based in London, she is surprised to receive a call asking her to prevent a plotted attack in the English capital. In a race against time, she starts to question exactly who she can trust around her, putting her faith in stranger Jack (Orlando Bloom) who offers to lend a hand, as the pair work alongside – and against – the law.

Joining the aforementioned duo is a remarkable cast, as the likes of John Malkovich, Toni Collette and Michael Douglas join the ranks – though it’s hard to quite fathom why. The former is one of the film’s saving graces, though is given far too little screen time. If only Bloom could have lent him some of his – for his turn as Jack is comedically bad at times, with the intention of providing the narrative with light relief. It certainly gets a lot of laughs from the crowd, to be fair – just not completely sure they’re coming in the right places. Rapace is the one consistent however, turning in yet another fine leading display, as a hero you can root for. Not only is she easily investable, and so believable as a ass-kicking CIA agent – but she injects a vital sense of humanity and vulnerability into the part which is essential to any good protagonist.

The actress is let down by a mediocre screenplay however, which veers too far into the melodrama in parts, emphatically over the top and downright absurd for the most part. This shouldn’t always be an issue in the thriller genre, but given this is a narrative steeped in realism, it proves to be detrimental to be proceedings. Nonetheless, it is fast-paced and offers a somewhat pure sense of entertainment, with a whole myriad of twists and turns that ensure the viewer remains as baffled as our hero does. But to simply be elusive in nature is not quite enough to save this lacklustre production.

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About Stefan Pape

Stefan Pape is a film critic and interviewer who spends most of his time in dark rooms, sipping on filter coffee and becoming perilously embroiled in the lives of others. He adores the work of Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, and won’t have a bad word said against Paul Giamatti.

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