Is it even worth doing a spy film without Peirce Brosnan? No, especially when he is the villain. Survivor, directed by James McTeigue, is a spy thriller filled with deceit, betrayal and explores the international threat of terrorism.
Kate Abbott (Mila Jovovich) is a Foreign Service Officer working for the State Department in London, and when she questions the visa of Doctor Emil Balan (Roger Rees) who is heading to the United States, her life is ripped apart and her integrity is questioned. When Kate and her work mates from the State Department head out for a birthday lunch for Bill (Robert Forster), they realise they have forgotten the present so Kate rushes across the street to grab something when suddenly a bomb goes off in the restaurant killing her friends. Kate survives the blast, but when the Watchmaker (Brosnan) who planted the bomb, sees she is alive he tries to finish his job. In an attempt to clear her name, Kate discovers Bill is being blackmailed with the life of his son, a prisoner of war, who is being held over his head as collateral to keep him compliant. With a terrorist plot looming, Kate is forced to take matters into her own hands and chases Dr Balan to New York to try and stop him.
There are many moments in Survivor that are not as sharp as they could be. Kate began working for the government after 9/11 when most of her friends were killed in the attack, but this is sort of glazed over. Assuming it is a device to prove what drives Kate, it is certainly skimmed over a little too quickly and sort of swept under the rug. In fact, the whole film feels a little wishy-washy. The action doesn’t quite feel like action and the relationships don’t feel very real. However, there are some redeeming qualities, like Pearce Brosnan for example who is a flawless villain in an incredible suit. He is both brutal and honest while revealing almost nothing about himself. The Watchmaker is probably the most well written character in Survivor. Brosnan has nailed the cold and masterful character with ease and elegance.
Survivor is an interesting look into the post 9/11 state of national security, in a world where the threat of terrorism is talked about constantly. Despite the lacklustre nature of the film, it does explore a side of international relations and security not often explored in film. Perhaps the less action packed nature of Survivor is more reflective of less glamourous work that goes into fighting terrorism.