Directed by: McG
OK, let’s get this out of the way at the top of this review. We like Kevin Costner, yeah, yeah we know that we might be in the minority here, but we are rather enjoying his sudden new-found celebrity here, in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and the up-coming Draft Day. Still, even we have to admit that this film was something of an off-speed pitch as it seems that the film’s producers couldn’t quite decide if they were going for a high-profile action flick (where a hard boiled CIA “cleaner” is out to Kick butt and take names), a sentimental family-man flick (were a hard-working father at the end of his time tries to re-connect with his estranged family), or a tongue-in-cheek, snarky spy spoof that takes liberties with the genre, and is out for a good time.
Unfortunately all of that odd-ball mash-up takes away from the film’s overall impact. Truthfully, it does each of those things well, it is just that it is a bit jarring as it unexpectedly whip-saws from one to another without warning, giving us something of a feeling of whiplash. Still it isn’t that we didn’t enjoy the film, it is just that we wish that the producers could have picked one genre and made that film (or perhaps made three films, one each).
At any rate, in this distinctive action-thriller, Costner plays Ethan Renner, an elite CIA hit man who after receiving news that he has a terminal case of brain cancer, determines that he is done, and decides to give up his high stakes life to finally re-build his relationship with his estranged wife and teen-aged daughter, whom he’s kept at arm’s length for all of these years to keep them out of danger. However when he is offered him an experimental, potentially life-saving drug in exchange for one last mission, it’s an offer he can’t refuse – even if it means juggling his two toughest assignments yet: going after the world’s most ruthless terrorist and caring for his daughter for the first time in 10 years while his wife is out of town.
So, there are some fun bits (extracting a pasta sauce recipe from a person he has tied up in a bathroom and is interrogating), some unbelievable bits (having a high-speed chase through the streets of Paris engaged in a shootout with the terrorists that he is hunting), some tender moments (teaching his teen daughter to dance and ride a bike), and some truly bazar bits (his CIA handler dressing up like a modern-day Mata Hari and flaunting herself around Paris) but again, all don’t seem to belong in the same movie. Still, it was fun, so we will suggest that you go see it.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.