Even though it never feels believable, this twisty spy thriller has such a quick pace that it's consistently entertaining. Packed with surprising revelations, the movie makes terrific use of shady American espionage agencies and villainous Russians, as well as a former James Bond. As with most of these kinds of films, it's also far too violent and edited in such a way as to make the action almost incomprehensible. But there's a sense of breezy fun to the film that keeps us watching.
It's been five years since CIA operative Peter (Pierce Brosnan) retired from active service, but his old friend Hanley (Bill Smitrovich) needs his help. So he heads to Moscow to intercept an operative with whom he has a past, and everything goes spectacularly wrong. He ends up in a face-off with his former protege David (Luke Bracey), a current CIA spy who is now ordered to eliminate his mentor. But there's life in Peter yet, and he manages to keep one step ahead of David, travelling to Belgrade to intercept a young woman, Alice (Olga Kurylenko), who is the key to a major operation that centres on a dodgy Russian politician (Lazar Ristovski). Chased by American spies and Russian thugs, Peter and Alice make a run for it.
Director Roger Donaldson has been making slick political thrillers since 1987's No Way Out, and he knows how to divert the audience's attention from plot holes and contrived action by simply never pausing for breath. He also packs the scenes with characters who bristle with snarky attitude, making them far more interesting than the usual action movie line-ups. Brosnan is clearly having a great time charging through each scene, nodding continually to his 007 history while playfully adding spark to his banter with Bracey, who just about keeps up with the "we know each other too well" interaction. And Kurylenko dives in with gusto, vamping it up gleefully as a woman with a lot of secrets.
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