Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 55 min.
Our content ratings (1-10): Violence 5; Language 5; Sex/Nudity 2.
Our star rating (1-5): 2.5
For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
Director Pierre Morel’s thriller takes us to the dark side of life where the denizens not only “eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence,” they even gorge and grow drunk on it! The prologue of the film starts out in 2006 in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) is a hit man working for a security task force protecting mining operations and bedding down at night with his idealistic doctor girlfriend, Annie (Jasmine Trinca), who serves at an NGO health center. Well, most nights. When his assoicate Felix (Javier Bardem), passes on the assignment to assassinate the DCR’s minister of mining, he does so, and immediately has to leave the country without any word to Annie. Years later, Terrier, returning to the DRC to work for a NGO, finds himself the target of assasins. The rest of the film finds him hopping from London to Barcelona to Gibralter as he seeks to unravel the mystery before a bullet or bomb stops him. Along the way he encounters Annie again, married now to Felix, very, very well off in a country mansion. Along the way there are plenty of gunbattles and brutal hand-to-hand fights, all of which result in such a high body count that Shakespeare’s bloody Titus Andronicus comes off more like an episode from “Goldilocks” by comparison. And of course, as usual, the baddies, armed with their rapid fire guns ought to work for a wrecking company than for a master criminal—they’re good at splattering plaster and wood chips all around, but lousy at hitting our hero. It is sad to see an actor who made such fine films as The Tree of Life, Milk, All the King’s Men, The Thin Red Line, and Dead Man Walking reduced to following in the path of another once fine actor, Lliam Neeson, in making blood and gore movies that appeal to the fantasy of aging males. There is not an iota of realism in this movie and its ilk, the Hidden franchise series. “If it bleeds, it leads,” is not just the code for TV news stations, but also for filmmakers who have no clue as to what constitues a worthwhile movie, but do have access to budgets big enough to stage big explosions and hire actors and stuntmen able to crash through windows or fall from great heights with no bodily harm. The films ought to carry the label, “Do not try any of this at home!” I will not waste time coming up with questions for this film. If someone is crazy enough to discuss the film, the focus should be upon the genre—why do such unrealistic fantasies do well at the box office; why do we think violence is the best (or only) way to deal with opponents? Does any member of that army of goons killed by our hero have any family or friends to mourn them?