Taglines: To stop the terror. They must fight the conspiracy.
After failing to apprehend the terrorist behind a Paris attack that claimed dozens of lives, CIA agent Alice Racine (Noomi Rapace) is forced to live in London as a caseworker. Unexpectedly, she is called back into action by her mentor, Eric Lasch (Michael Douglas), when the CIA discovers intel of another imminent attack. While “unlocking” the suspect, Alice discovers that the classified information she has uncovered has been compromised. Running for her life, Alice turns to ex-soldier Jack (Orlando Bloom) to prevent a lethal biological attack on the citizens of London.
Noomi Rapace plays Alice Racine, a brilliant CIA operative who hasn’t worked in the field since she was unable to prevent a terrorist attack in Paris in 2012. Currently in London as an undercover agent in the guise of a social worker, Alice refuses entreaties from her former mentor (Michael Douglas) to return to the fold, but soon finds herself pulled back in when the agency asks for her help with an important case involving a potential attack on London by an ISIS cell. A courier with key information has been captured en route to deliver a key message and she is asked to get it out of him. Getting the information is easy enough but Alice soon begins to sense that the situation is not quite as it seems. Indeed, her intuitions are correct, and she manages to escape in the nick of time along with the coveted information.
On the run and unsure of who she can trust anymore, Alice runs into plenty of people along the way to arouse her suspicions. Besides the mentor, there is the local CIA bureau chief (John Malkovich), who professes to believe her story but nevertheless deems her behavior to be highly suspicious at best. There is her main MI5 contact (Toni Collette), who may or may not know more than she is letting on.
Most bizarrely, there is a cat burglar (Orlando Bloom) that she meets when she catches him robbing a safe house where she is intending to hide out and who is revealed to possess the kind of advanced skill set not often seen in guys who boost TVs for a living. About the only person that she can actually put her trust in is Amjad (Tosin Cole), a local who has been giving her information on suspicious neighbors and who seems to have what it takes to make it as an agent himself.
Unlocked is a 2017 British-American thriller film directed by Michael Apted and written by Peter O’Brien. The film stars Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas, John Malkovich and Toni Collette. The film was released in the United Kingdom on May 5, 2017, and on September 1, 2017 by Lionsgate.
Film Review for Unlocked
Imagine the melancholy passage this picture has endured in the three years since it was shot: Left to snooze on a high shelf, occasionally pulled down to be poked and prodded by a team of editors in search of a graceful narrative through-line, or at least a few shapely scenes…all in vain. Finally, defeated, the filmmakers gave up and just put the damn thing out. And here it is.
Unlocked is an international-espionage thriller in the very long line of the Bond and Bourne movies, and I hear you stifling a yawn. But this one’s different. Because in this one, the international kickass at the center of things is…a woman. That’s right. And that might’ve sounded sort of bold three years ago, but now it’s come a little late—Atomic Blonde kicks this movie’s butt all over the lot.
It’s not just that dragon-tattoo girl Noomi Rapace is about five inches shorter than Charlize Theron—she’s about seven inches shorter than Orlando Bloom, the most action-y of her costars here. And so she never seems in any way formidable—a quality that Theron can summon with just a lopsided lift of her lip.
Rapace plays Alice Racine, a CIA agent who screwed up an op in Paris two years earlier and now, spooked (so to speak), works undercover at a London community center counseling amiable ethnic people about employment opportunities. This could happen, I suppose. Then Alice gets a summons from her old CIA boss, Eric Lasch (Michael Douglas), who wants to bring her back into the action. It seems there’s an evil Muslim imam who’s about to dispatch a young Moroccan courier to somebody-somebody-whatever and there’s a nightmare biological weapon in play and Alice’s job, once the Company has snatched the courier, will be to pry out of him the recognition phrases he needs to use with the nightmare-biological-weapon connection. This way a new agency-controlled courier can be introduced into the mix and whatever-whatever.
I imagine the insanely convoluted story here might have made some sense three years ago. Well, maybe. It’s a first film script by writer Peter O’Brien, who previously labored in the field of Halo video games; but the chaotic narrative might not be his fault – it’s the chaotic editing that works hardest to keep us in the dark.
What keeps us snickering, though, is the movie’s pure-Hollywood take on Islamic terrorism. The big bad guy here—a man determined to spread a lethal designer virus in the worst possible place—isn’t from the Middle East; he’s a wealthy young American (“a trust-fund jihadi,” someone calls him, as if that were a thing). And the soulless chemist cooking up the virus in an illicit lab? He’s Asian. And that evil imam we met at the beginning? Turns out he’s actually a guy who dreams only of peace.
I wonder if any of the other name talent here contemplated such silliness before signing on to this picture. Douglas has a role of some plot relevance; but Toni Collette, as a prickly MI5 officer nibbling at the edges of the plot, and John Malkovich, as a CIA chieftain flown over from Langley to hiss and fret from time to time, are basically wasted.
Then there’s Orlando Bloom’s character, Jack Alcott, a burglar whom Alice interrupts practicing his trade in a luxe apartment. You wouldn’t think an on-the-run CIA agent like Alice would have much use for a miscreant like Jack—until you learn that he served in the military, so he’s good with weapons, and he lost his best friend in the 2005 London tube bombings, so he doesn’t much like frickin’ terrorists, either. Also he has a neck full of tattoos and a cute little ponytail, and you can imagine how Alice might fall for him. Unfortunately, she doesn’t. (This is a movie in desperate need of sexy. And director Michael Apted—who has an actual Bond movie on his resume: the 1999 The World Is Not Enough—seems to have lost interest in this area.)
A wearisome overload of conspiracies and double-crosses piles up —there’s a mole, naturally—and as the movie traipses from tense interrogation room to roaring soccer stadium to darkly muddled riverside shootout, you may feel your interest leaking away; and you may feel it petering out entirely after a bluntly unprepared left turn to Prague. There are some adequate action scenes—some shooting, some chasing, the usual. But Rapace isn’t the actor to carry this sort of picture. She’s too inward, too buttoned up; and the script gives her none of the breezy flair of the various Bonds or the emotional backstory that redeems the grim-lipped Jason Bourne. She’s just a woman in a formerly all-male context. And that alone is no longer enough.
Directed by: Michael Apted
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Michael Douglas, Matthew Marsh, Makram Khoury, Brian Caspe, Philip Brodie, Raffaello Degruttola, Michael Epp
Screenplay by: Peter O’Brien
Production Design by: Ondrej Nekvasil
Cinematography by: George Richmond
Film Editing by: Andrew MacRitchie
Costume Design by: Bojana Nikitovic
Set Decoration by: Beatrice Brentnerova
Art Direction by: Stefan Kovacik
Music by: Stephen Barton
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language.
Distributed by: Lionsgate Films
Release Date: May 5, 2017 (United Kingdom), September 1, 2017 (United States)