Review by Jeff Myhre
The action genre is usually aimed at 14-year-old boys who have nothing better to do than go to the movies to watch stuff blow up. This film, despite some serious acting talent, doesn’t aspire to much more. The premise is straightforward enough, a mercenary/assassin (former US Marine) has lost his wife and child and is called away from mourning them by a job where the client “wants the best.” His old Corps pal Jim Morrow (Paul Anderson, a/k/a Arthur Shelby in “Peaky Blinders”) makes a visit to get him onboard.
So for two million dollars a day, Travis Conrad (Ethan Hawke, whose acting talent is not pushed much by the script) goes back to work for Red Mountain Corp. Apparently, Interpol has a witness who is going to testify to the UN about some horrible crimes the company committed in southern Africa. Conrad’s job is to kill the witness, because morality is not part of the mercenary’s code. Conrad probably should have stayed on the beach drunk with Frank his father-in-law (Rutger Hauer, whose role is too small and its promise never realized).
Instead, he tracks down the Interpol Agent Lin Bisset (Qing Xu, who is working in her second language and does it better than many working in their native tongue), and rather than kill her, he sleeps with her. She then kills him. How does James Bond always get away with it? Anyway, rather than end the film at the 30 minute mark, Red Mountain brings him back to life with a medical procedure that lasts for 24 hours, just long enough for him to tell them where Lin has gone and where the witness is.
Doctor Helen (Nathalie Boltt, who is at least convincing) thoughtfully included a sub-dermal countdown clock which she embedded in Conrad’s forearm. Rather than accept the involuntary euthanasia his employers offer, he kills everyone except Doctor Helen to make his escape.
Meanwhile, Red Mountain tries and fails to kill the witness, but the assassination attempt ends the interview as the UN and Interpol folks scramble for the exits. The memory card from the video camera winds up in Lin’s possess. So Red Mountain kidnaps her son in Hong Kong and flies him to South Africa for an exchange.
The card holds an ironic twist. Red Mountain dug a mass grave to cover up failed medical experiments on people that led to the process by which Conrad returned from the dead. Conrad switches sides and helps Lin.
After that, there is a lot of shooting, and an RPG takes out an SUV (which would be useful during rush hour). The whole thing ends with a massive firefight in the headquarters of Red Mountain. Corporate head Wetlzer (Liam Cunningham, a/k/a Davos Seaworth in “Game of Thrones) turns out to have ordered the deaths of Conrad’s wife and child to keep Conrad from retiring, and as he awaits the helicopter to ferry him to safety, he is shot dead by Jim, who had been sitting quietly throughout the firefight sipping Johnny Walker Black (Arthur Shelby would have been in the middle of the ruck chugging from the bottle).
Then, his 24 hours are up. Conrad dies. And the final scene is him waking up again and Doctor Helen’s voice welcomes him back before the credits roll.
It’s not bad for its type. It’s not good either. What disappointed was the waste committed by Director Brian Smrz. Hawke and Hauer show some real acting chemistry in their brief scenes, which Qing Xu and Hawke don’t ever seem to have. I am pretty sure all concerned read the script, decided against it, and then read the paycheck. Former marines aren’t the only mercenaries in the world
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