An awful English accent from an actor that should be better, added to a confusing & mixed up storyline that switched & stumbled awkwardly amidst this essentially entertaining but ultimately fault filled film, the familiar London scenery its only substantive saviour, but caused “Unlocked” to attract our callous critique & did any of the star cast collective shine in an otherwise sorrowful screenplay?
There is an art to a great espionage epic or spy story, the best exponent without doubt the masterful John Le Carre, while Frederick Forsyth isn’t far being, films of note from both including classic seventies screenplay, “The Day Of The Jackal”, eighties exponent “The Fourth Protocol” while the more modern marvel “Our Kind Of Traitor” sets a brilliant benchmark for which many others only dream to reach. Indeed, while recent release “Bridge Of Spies” came close, we have to look back on the James Bond franchise of films to satisfy our appetite for a standout spy thriller, although extending our reach to militaria then encompasses many more including the excellent “Eye In the Sky”, the superb “Sicario” & the terrific “Zero Dark Thirty”, hence the bar being set heftily high for new movie kids on the block to achieve anywhere near the acclaim of these fantastic films. Yet on the face of it, well given the temptations taunted by the trailer at least, “Unlocked” looked like a promising prospect, not least that a star studied cast extending to Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas & John Malkovich, along with an Annie Lennox lookie-likie, had us reeled in, hook line & sinker. That said, there was a nagging thought in the back of our mind that we may have picked out a pup, memories of miss-fire movies “London Has Fallen” & “The Kingsman” still haunting our minds eye and exaggerating our mixed feelings of apprehension & anticipation, both sensations ultimately playing out before our eyes as this fault filled film unfolded. However, like the other two just mentioned, what came to the rescue of “Unlocked” was the cosy comfort in recognising settings of this screenplay in a city which we have lived in for a sizable chunk of our life, we constantly referencing the scenes to the parts of London we know like the back of our hand, that age old phrase “familiarity breeds content” it’s singular strength.
So, what was it about “Unlocked” that miss-fired and caused it to accumulate the callous critique we are about to wage against it? Well, before we do, we have to say that, essentially, it is an entertaining film, engaging enough and occasionally tense in a thrilling sort of way, but you get the notion pretty soon into this screenplay that it is trying to emulate a Le Carre cinematic classic or a fabulous Forsyth film, yet the appearance of Michael Douglas on screen dispels that illusion almost immediately. We accept that his character is American and in this motion picture, he represents a CIA agent and “Unlocked” focuses on this organisation in tandem with the British security service, MI5, for us he just doesn’t fit, we unavoidably associating him with far less serious films & television drama’s, we actually quite pleased when he seemingly gets killed off relatively swiftly, although miraculously (and part of the over complicated plot) re-appears later on in this muddled up motion picture. Then there is Orlando Bloom who plays what appears on the initial surface, a London layabout burglar, but is ultimately exposed as an infiltrating operative from the forces waging a biological attack on the city, this first assumption of his character quickly switching to that of a war veteran of the Afghanistan era, only to switch again, this an irritating trait throughout the film as a whole. But it is Bloom’s appallingly bad English (nay London) accent that is the most off putting part of his involvement in a relatively plausible plot that, nevertheless, continues to confuse rather than show itself as being cleverly contrived. Indeed, the mere fact that Douglas reappears and shows his true colours as a CIA agent turned bad, or at least one with a misplaced loyalty to the American cause, is the ultimate disappointment, while what we did enjoy was the cross Atlantic interaction between Malkovich’s intelligence chief character, Bob Hunter, and his British counterpart Emily Knowles, played by Toni Collette who, for this film, receives an Annie Lennox look make-over that is as intriguing as the scores of familiar London settings. So, average is the best we can conclude, this perhaps generous given some of the industry ratings which have affirmed our decision our DVD collection door to “Unlocked” will remain well & truly bolted shut. (DISCO MATT)