Kate – review

Brief synopsis: In revenge after killing a member of the Yakuza, an assassin is poisoned. Dying, she has less than twenty hours to find the person responsible for ordering her death.

She kidnaps the niece of whom she believes ordered her death, hoping to flush him out.

Is it any good?: Kate is an entertaining actioner in the vein of Salt or Atomic Blonde. Playing the role of a contract killer, Kate, Mary Elizabeth Winstead ably carries the film.

With violent, kinetic action, set pieces, Kate is an exciting actioner set against a neon-lit Japanese cityscape.

Spoiler territory: In Osaka, Japan, Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is declining Varrick’s (Woody Harrelson) advice to use a scope. He presses home that this mission cannot go wrong.

She reminds him that she has not missed a shot in a dozen years. She leaves to go and position herself in the vantage point for the incoming target.

The car with the target arrives. A teenage girl gets out. She runs around the car, her father getting out on the other side. The target is open, Kate hears via her headset (Elysia Rotaru – voice).

Kate hesitates; there is a child. The voice repeats the target is open. She has to take the shot. Kate shoots, killing the girl’s father in front of her.

Sometime later, she is in Tokyo. She has told Varrick that she wants to retire. She will finish the Japan job after that; she is finished. She goes to a bar in Tokyo, trying to get some normalcy in her life.

She meets Stephen (Michiel Huisman). They have an evening of passion before Kate gets a text. The final job is on. Kate tells Stephen he has to go. She pays him.

Kate goes to the location where her intended target is going to be. She waits patiently, scope trained on the area. She does not feel right, a little unsteady.

The target appears, Kate gets the okay and takes the shot. She misses. The target, warned by the attack, is bundled into a car. Kate, against the wishes of the voice, pursues the target.

She is struggling, having ingested something that is affecting her. She steals a car and chases the target. The poison coursing through her, makes her pass out.

She wakes up in hospital. There is a radioactive poison in her body. She has about twenty hours to live. Kate recalls drinking wine with Stephen. He did not drink the wine.

Kate leaves the hospital, but not before forcing the doctor (Hirotaka Renge) to help her steal stimulants. She goes and sees Stephen, having memorised his address.

She wants to know who wants her dead. Stephen tells her he does not know. She threatens to kill his wife, Kanako (Mari Yamamoto). Stephen relents, telling her that Sato (Koji Nishiyama), part of the Kijima (Jun Kunimura) Yakuza clan.

She goes and sees Varrick. She tells him she is dying and wants to know why. Varrick tells her that she killed Kijima’s younger brother in Osaka. It is revenge and a matter of honour.

He directs her to a local club that Sato and other members of the clan hang out. Kate goes to the club. She kills multiple henchmen and lower level Yakuza. She wants to know where Kijima is.

One of the few remaining henchmen tells her that the only way to get to Kijima is through his niece, Ani (Miku Patricia Martineau). Kate finds Ani. She is the teenage daughter of the man she killed in Osaka.

Kate kidnaps Ani. Ani tells her that the only person who knows where her uncle is Renji (Tadanobu Asano). Kate tells her to call him. She uses Ani as bait, trying to get Kijima to show himself.

Renji sends men to kill Kate. And Ani. Kate gets into a firefight with multiple henchmen, killing them all. Ani, who she had tied up in a bathroom, escapes.

Ani she finds Shinzo (Kazuya Tanabe). Shinzo makes it plain to her that Renji wants her dead. Kate kills Shinzo, saving Ani. She tries to leave Ani behind but the teenager follows her.

Ani wants to help her find her uncle, believing that he wants her dead. They need to get to Renji. To do that, Ani thinks that his boyfriend, Jojima (Miyavi). They go and meet Jojima.

Kate and Jojima fight. Jojima overpowers Kate and is about to kill her. Ani smashes him in the head, killing him. They use Jojima’s mobile to track Renji down.

They find Renji and get Kijima’s location. Kate contacts Varrick and tells him where she is going; she does expect to survive the encounter. At the address, kate tells Ani to leave. She is going in alone.

Kate goes into the house and finds Kijima. He is sitting, waiting for her. Kijima speaks with her, telling her she is a pawn. Outside the house, Ani meets Varrick. He tells her that Kate killed her father.

Kijima shows Kate that Varrick betrayed her. She tries to stop Ani from going with Varrick. Ani shoots her. Ani leaves with Varrick.

Kijima finds a stunned Kate and gives her a stimulant. Varrick has returned to his office with Ani. Renji is there, the two having formulated a plan to overthrow the Kijima clan.

Kijima, Kate and an army of yakuza attack the offices. As Kate searches for Varrick, Kijima faces off against Renji. The older man quickly dispatches Renji.

Kate finds Varrick. He has Ani as a hostage knowing that Kate would come to rescue her. Kate kills Varrick. Ani hugs a dying Kate, taking her onto the roof. Kate dies. The end.

Final thoughts: Kate is an exciting action-thriller, with Winstead driving the film from the outset. There are no surprises story-wise. Everything that happens one expects to happen.

It is the camerawork, editing and directing by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan that helps to elevate this film. That and Winstead. Winstead is excellent as the relentless Kate.

Written by Umair Aleem, Kate is a competent script with a strong enough story to let the actors work. The fight scenes are violent and brilliant, with the edits and fight choreography sharp.

At one-hundred-and-six minutes long, the film hurtles through its runtime with no overly unnecessary fluff. Like I mentioned at the outset, There is an Atomic Blonde vibe about the film, Nicolas-Troyan utilising the Japanese backdrop beautifully.

Kate, above all else, is a Mary Elizabeth Winstead film. She is compelling from the first frame to the last and is one of the reasons to watch this film.

Out Of Death – review

Brief synopsis: a woman witnesses a policewoman murdering a man. The policewoman, along with other interested parties, needs to eliminate the woman. 

A veteran policeman saves the woman from certain death. They join forces to expose the corruption in the small town. 

Is it any good?: Out of Death is so bad that I am struggling to find an appropriate adjective to describe its awfulness. There is nothing to recommend this film. 

The acting is, without exception, terrible, the script, atrocious. The directing is amateurish and the story, lazy and ill-thought-out. 

Spoiler(ish) territory: Dropped off by a friend, Shannon (Jamie King) joke that if she is not back in a few hours, her friend should call search and rescue. 

Shannon heads off into the woods. It is beginning to rain. Well, a digital approximation of rain. Rain is very difficult to fake digitally; I have tried. The digital rain makes no difference to the main story. 

She is in the woods to bury her father’s ashes. The impending storm – that never comes – gives her pause. Maybe it’s a sign. She writes this in a journal she has brought with her. 

The fake storm passes, a tattooed man, Jimmy (Oliver Trevena), drives into a clearing. He sorts out money and drugs, snorts some powder. He hides his mobile phone behind the rearview mirror, putting it to record. 

A police car comes up behind him. Policewoman Bille Jean ( Lala Kent) gets out and approaches his vehicle. She gets into his truck. Jimmy gets amorous, Billie Jean stops him; business first. 

Jimmy has not sold enough. They have a deal. She seizes the drugs and he sells them; that’s the deal. She is going to have to find another dealer. Jimmy begins to question her, his line of questioning odd. 

His mobile pings. Billie Jean finds his mobile and sees that it is recording. They begin to argue. Loudly. Shannon, who is watching them and has her camera out filming them, watches the argument unfold. 

A rumbled Jimmy throws powder in Billie Jean’s face and makes a run for it. She gets out of the truck and kills him, shooting him in the head. It is another crappy digital effect. Shannon captures the whole thing. 

She drags Jimmy’s lifeless body back to his truck. There is no blood on her. Maybe the cocaine kept the blood off of her. Elsewhere, Uncle Jack (Bruce Willis) has come to the small rural town to visit his younger brother. 

Niece, Pam (Kelly Greyson), tells him that her father is away. Jack is a bit down. His wife died three weeks earlier. Pam tells him it will take some time for him to get over it. Pam is a genius. She adds that being in the country, near the lake, is healing. Thank you, Pam. 

Pam’s son, Pete (Keagan Lasater), comes to greet Jack. The boy has inherited his mother’s tact, immediately noting how sad his great uncle seems. Jack gifts him a video game. That shuts him up. 

The boy buggers off. He only turned up for a gift. I’m guessing he is related to Bruce, as there is no reason for him to be in the film. Back with Jack. And his misery. Jack wonders what he will do out in that rural backwater. 

Pam, ever a font of useless advice, says to enjoy the peace. Jack decides to go for a hike. One would. Pam tells him he should take his gun, just in case he should encounter a bear. 

One would think the mention of a possible bear sighting would dissuade him. Nope, not one bit. Back in the woods, Billie Jean has moved Jimmy’s vehicle into the bushes. Shannon is still filming her. Billie Jean hears her moving around and shouts. She fires a warning into the air. 

A frightened Shannon runs but not before dropping her camera. Yes, she drops the only piece of evidence she has. Not that it matters in the context of the film. She goes back and finds it later. 

Billie calls back to the station to speak to Hank (Michael Sirow). They have a problem. She had to kill someone and was spotted. Hank’s brother, Tommy (Tyler Jon Olson), is also listening to the conversation. 

Hank asks where the person is. Billie tells him that she ran off. They will have to find her. He sends Tommy to help her with the search. Hank is running for Mayor. He tells Tommy to take out a promotional poster. 

Pam and Pete leave old uncle Jack. They are going away for a week. Billie and Tommy search for Shannon. They find her. Shannon, understandably, is terrified. Tommy tells Billie to kill her. Jack, who is out for his hike, sees the scene unfolding. 

He intervenes, telling Billie and Tommy to kneel. Tommy, struck by a moment of smartness, guesses that Jack, who has identified himself as law enforcement, will not shoot them. Jack tells Shannon to run. Shannon is off running. 

Jack follows after her. As he is a lot older, not as mobile as in his youth, she quickly disappears out of sight. Billie and Tommy, who Jack did not think to secure in any way, shape or form, pursue them. 

Shannon hides out in a disused warehouse. She arms herself with a knife. In the woods, Tommy and Bille split up. Billie, having lost her gun earlier, is unarmed. She finds Shannon. 

Shannon stabs her in the leg and runs again. Billie, not the smartest person on God’s earth, pulls the knife out of the wound. For a law person, she knows little about wounds. The leg begins to bleed profusely. She calls Tommy. She tourniquets the leg, slowing the bleed. 

Tommy finds Billie. She tells him she is not feeling too good. Surprise that. Jack finds Shannon. They have the dullest conversation known to man. He’s a cop. His wife died recently. She’s a photojournalist whose father felt she lacked character. Boring. 

More practically, Shannon tells him that she filmed Billie. Jack says he needs to get his phone. She will go and retrieve her camera whilst he does that. 

Tommy and a failing Billie, meet up with Hank. Hank tells Tommy he has to kill Billie. She is too much of a liability. She probably would not survive a trip to the hospital. Tommy takes off the tourniquet and lets her bleed to death. 

Hank, who is, apparently, the brains of the town, goes to the house of Pam’s father. He is looking for Jack. He just misses him, Jack slipping out as he looks around the house. 

Tommy is moving Billie’s body. He sees Shannon and gives chase, catching her. She fights him off, eventually taking his gun and killing him. Hank sees photographs of Pam in the house and realises she is related to Jack. 

He calls Pam and gets Jacks number. He leaves the house and goes looking for Tommy, who is not answering his phone. He finds him dead. The death of his sibling does not seem to bother him. 

Hank gets Pam picked up. He will use her to flush out Jack. Officer Frank (Mike Burns) gets her. He is exceedingly creepy. Hank calls Jack. He makes a bravado speech, telling him to bring Shannon to him if he wants to see his niece. 

Shannon overhears Jack agreeing to exchange her for his niece and is off running again. Jack is now pursuing her. She comes across another house – there are a lot of random remote homes in this town! – and begs the woman (Megan Leonard) to let her in. 

Jack walks into the house. Maybe he’s a ghost. Shannon forces the woman to go upstairs, locking themselves in her bedroom. Jack tells Shannon he was buying time. 

They formulate a plan. Shannon uploads her film to a computer and sends it to the FBI. Jack tells Hank where they are. Hank brings Pam to make the exchange. They outwit Hank and he gets arrested by the FBI. 

A couple of weeks later, Jack is happier. Shannon takes him to see the lake. The end. 

Final thoughts: Out of Death is total bollocks. Some actors are, basically, themselves on film. Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L Jackson, Chris Pratt, are guys who play the same character in practically every role. 

Bruce Willis is in this category. The only difference is, he does not even try anymore. Never has it been more evident of a man collecting a wage for the bare minimum. It is just a pension for him. 

These days, most films that Willis appears in are guaranteed to be poor. Out of Death takes his films to a new depth. He does not even try. The other actors, except for Lala Kent that worked with him in the God-awful Hard Kill, probably looked forward to being in a film with him. 

Pity for them. Written by Bill Lawrence and directed by Mike Burns, the same combinations that brought us the aforementioned, Hard Kill, manage to make an even poorer film this time around. 

The acting stinks. Kent, however, is head and shoulder below everyone else. Tyler Jon Olson does deserve a special mention for being unable to hold his breath whilst playing dead. 

At ninety-six minutes long, the film still manages to include many extraneous scenes. The film feels longer than it is because of the poor pacing. There is nothing to recommend about this film. It is an hour and a half of your life you will never see again. Avoid.

The Harder They Fall – review

With a screenplay by Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin, with Samuel also on directing duties, The Harder They Fall is a Western made notable by an almost exclusively black cast. 

Using the Western staples of revenge and the overthrowing of a small town, The Harder They Fall is a big-screen film forced, by present circumstances, onto the small screen. 

A host of well-known stars and actors appear in this well-made film. Idris Elba leads the charge as the antagonist, Rufus Buck. He is ably supported by Regina King, as Trudy Smith, and Lakieth Stanfield as Cherokee Bill. 

The protagonist, Nat Love, is played by Johnathan Majors. Zazie Beetz as Stagecoach Mary, Edi Gathegi as Bill Pickett, Danielle Deadwyler as Cuffee and RJ Cyler as Jim Beckworth make up the rest of Love’s crew. Delroy Lindo’s Bass Reeves brings the two factions together. 

The story begins with a god-fearing man (Michael Beach) sitting down to eat with his young wife, Eleanor (Dewanda Wise) and son, Nat (Chase Dillon). 

There is a knock at the door. Two men come into the house, Rufus and Jesus Cortez (Julio Cesar Cedillo). The man recognises Rufus. He is not glad to see him, knowing that it is not a good omen. 

Rufus kills the man and his wife. He carves a cross into young Nat’s forehead. Many years later, a grownup Nat, a well-known outlaw himself, exacts revenge on Cortez. 

All of this happens before the credits roll on Samuels’ beautifully crafted and nostalgic homage to Westerns, the Old West and figures from history. 

From the outset, the writers state that the film is a work of fiction. Even though all the names are real people from the Western era, the story is fictitious.

The beauty of Samuel and Yakin’s story is that the cast being predominantly black is not important. There are elements of the film, that work better, because of it, but it is not the driving force of the film. 

From a technical standpoint, The Harder They Fall is a wonderful piece of work. From the stylised opening title sequence, dusty, yet colourful, palette and shot selection to pacing and fabulous soundtrack, The Harder They Fall is an enjoyable treat. 

All the actors on show bring their A-game, with standout performances from Regina King and Lakieth Stanfield. Idris Elba is the biggest name on the call sheet.

However, it is Majors’ Love that drives the film, his chilled demeanour carrying proceedings easily. Majors’, who recently appeared in Loki, as the time-travelling villain, Kang, star is in the ascendancy. 

Veteran actor, Delroy Lindo, is such a natural fit as the lawman, Bass Reeves, a role made for him to play. There are so many great scenes in the film, from Deon Cole’s Wiley Escoe, as the sheriff of Redwood, bravado monologue before being persuaded to leave town, to Elba’s Rufus final revelation, the film is full of gems. 

The music of the film deserves a special mention. There is hip hop, reggae, soul, traditional Western-style music and accents. 

Besides the nods to the classic spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone, there is a quiet homage to The Magnificent Seven, with the bond amongst Love’s motley crew of protagonists, going beyond greed or need. 

There is a wobble, the story of Love’s revenge momentarily overshadowed. Redwood needs saving from the tyranny of Rufus and his gang. This particular storyline peters out, none of the townsfolk figuring in the story later on. 

At two-hour-and-nineteen minutes, The Harder They Fall is a long film. It does not feel long. The action is well-spaced out, the peak and troughs of the film, keeping one’s interest throughout. 

Jeymes Samuel has fashioned a highly enjoyable film, that is well worth the two hour viewing time.

Red Notice – review

Brief synopsis: An art thief plans to steal a collection of three ancient, jewelled, eggs. He is tracked by a tenacious Interpol agent and an FBI behavioural specialist. 

He is not the only thief after the eggs. Another thief is tasked with retrieving the eggs by a Saudi billionaire. He wants to give them to his daughter as a wedding gift. 

Is it any good?: Red Notice is watchable and if you like any of the stars, you might even enjoy it. It is not a good film. It is a mishmash of Raiders of the Lost Ark, National Treasure and The Pink Panther but fails to reach even half the heights of those films.

At just under two hours, it is a little overlong. Red Notice is just okay. Throwing up no surprises whatsoever, Red Notice is a brain in neutral watch, that you put on in the background whilst doing something else.

Spoiler Territory: the film opens, telling us the story of three ornate jewelled eggs that were created for Cleopatra. The whereabouts of two of the eggs is known. One is in an art museum, the other in the hands of a dangerous arms dealer. The third eggs location is only known by one person, art thief, Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds).

Inspector Urvashi Das (Ritu Aryu) heads an Interpol unit that is after Nolan. She is being assisted by FBI agent, John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson).

One of the eggs, which is on display in a museum in Rome, is a target. They get to the museum and the egg is on display. John is sure that the egg is not real, pouring cola onto the exhibit. 

The egg dissolves when hit by the fizzy liquid. John sees Nolan in the room and gives chase, even as the museum security try to lockdown the room. 

Nolan is chased by multiple security personnel, managing to evade and injure many of them in the process. Like any episode of that eighties classic show, The A-Team, not one of them is seriously injured. 

This is a pattern in the film. Bullets fly, there are falls from great heights, explosions, crashes and fisticuffs. All result in minor injuries, not one death or incapacitation. 

Unsurprisingly, Nolan escapes, even with John in pursuit. John does manage to get a nice Porsche product placement in, the Taycan he commandeers being crashed into, moments after he gets into it. 

Nolan takes his booty to his Bali – there is a real Bond-esque desire to include as many locations as possible in this film – retreat. He is quickly apprehended by John and Das and her team. 

They arrest him and Das gives John the egg to look after. Nolan wants to know how they found him. A tip-off from the elusive thief, the Bishop.

John hands the egg to a masked female Interpol agent. The agent steals the egg unbeknownst to John. The next evening, Das comes and arrest John. Nobody knows him at the FBI. He gets sent to a prison in Russia. His roommate is Nolan. 

He tells Nolan that he was set up by the Bishop. He does not know why, especially as no one knows where the third egg is. Nolan gets John beat up by revealing he is a cop. 

The Bishop (Gal Gadot) comes to visit John and Nolan. She tells Nolan that she knows that he knows where the third egg is. She tells John, that she set him up. She is there to make a deal with Nolan. 

She will get them out if he tells her the location of the egg plus ten percent of her fee for the theft. Nolan rejects the deal. Later, John says they need to escape and capture the Bishop. The two bond over their similar upbringing and relationships with estranged fathers. 

They escape the prison. Bullets fly, rocket launchers are fired, explosions. No deaths. They need to head to a masquerade party being held by Soto Voce (Chris Diamantopoulos), the arms dealer. The party is in Spain. 

The Bishop breaks into the Interpol offices – yes she does – and sends Das a message, telling her that John and Nolan have escaped. 

Nolan explains the elaborate security system Soto employs. They need to avoid cameras. They also must get hold of an ever-changing passcode that can only be found in Soto’s phone. There is voice and facial recognition software, plus the heavily armed guards. They arrive in Valencia and go to the party. 

John sees The Bishop and goes after her. The two have some verbal sparring and dance before being interrupted on the dance floor by Soto. The Bishop is in partnership with Soto. John steals Soto’s mobile phone. Das is also at the party. Soto makes a speech at the party. 

John and Nolan take the opportunity to go and steal the egg. As they get to the egg, The Bishop is waiting for them. She tells them there was an easier way to get into the room. She fights and overcomes both men. Soto and his security come into the vault, alerted by the door having been opened. 

Soto ties up the two men under a bull ring. The Bishop joins him and tortures John to get information out of Nolan. She wants to know where the third egg is. Soto, impatient for the information, chokes John. Nolan tells them the egg is in Egypt. 

The Bishop drugs Soto and leaves with the egg. John and Nolan escape into the bull ring. John gets hit by the bull. Haha haha. He is okay. A-Team violence remember. Nolan lied to them. The egg is in Argentina. It was hidden in a vault that the Germans had during the war. They head to the Argentinian jungle. 

They find the vault. The Bishop finds them. Das has followed the Bishop. The Bishop, John and Nolan join forces to escape Das and her team. There is another product placement with a rare Mercedes making an appearance. 

They escape Das. John reveals his relationship with The Bishop. They are both the Bishop, working as a partnership. They take the egg and leave Nolan. 

They head to Cairo to deliver all three eggs to the billionaire. Das turns up at the wedding party and arrests the billionaire and his daughter for having Nazi loot. John and The Bishop escape again. A little while later, they are in Sardinia enjoying their life. 

Nolan interrupts their joy. He has told Das about their off-shore account and all their assets have been frozen. What does he want? There is another job that needs three thieves. The end. 

Final thoughts: Red Notice is a lazy star vehicle, written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber entirely around Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds popularity. 

Gal Gadot has enough star power and beauty not to be overshadowed by the two men, neither of whom are required to get out of second gear in their respective personas. 

Thurber’s script has a few gems, allowing Reynolds, especially, to bring his acerbic wit to proceedings. It is not as clever as he would like it to be and there are too many unnecessary scenes in the film. 

The constant changing of locations served no purpose except for increasing the use of studio green screen and editorial title cards. The film is competently directed and bumps along at a good pace. Unfortunately, the story is convoluted and takes too much inspiration from better films without bringing anything new. 

Rita Arya, outstanding in The Umbrella Academy, has little to do but scowl and collect her paycheque as the tenacious Das. Chris Diamantopoulos as Soto is such a waste of screen time, one can almost forget he was in the film and I’ve watched it twice!

Red Notice is a moderately amusing, overlong, action-comedy that is a little light on both counts. Watchable but not unmissable.

The Tomorrow War – review

Brief synopsis: In the future, the human race is near extinction due to an alien invasion. As the war rages on, an estranged father and daughter battle to find a way to defeat aliens and save the human race. 

Is it any good?: The Tomorrow War is a multi-million pound B-movie without the humour or amusingly bad script and actors. Taking influence from the far superior Edge Of Tomorrow (2014) in style, this Chris Pratt starrer is mostly noise and special effects with the story eliciting very little emotion. 

Spoiler territory: biology teacher and ex-military man – of course – Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is hosting a Christmas party in 2022. He has popped out to pick up a few bits and returns to the party. 

He is greeted by his young daughter, Muri (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) and makes his way to the kitchen where his wife, Emmy (Betty Gilpin), is looking after guests. 

Dan is waiting on a call about a job he has applied for, stepping out again as he receives the call. Unfortunately, he does not get the job. A frustrated Dan returns to the party. 

He joins his daughter on the sofa and the two are watching a soccer game that is being shown from Qatar. As Muri chatters away, the soccer game, which is being broadcast live, is interrupted. 

A military unit has appeared out of thin air onto the pitch. Lieutenant Hart (Jasmine Mathews) addresses the world – apparently, the world watches soccer games that happen in Qatar… – she is from the future and the human race is about to be wiped out. Okay, we’ll take your word for it. 

A year later, soldiers are being sent into the future to fight the alien threat known as Whitespikes. Their efforts are proving fruitless and the world’s military is quickly decimated. The world’s collective governments decide to start drafting civilians for the cause. 

Dan struggles to engage his students amidst the tragic events happening around the globe, with only Martin (Seth Schenall), a kid obsessed with volcanoes – it will be relevant later – showing any zeal in the classroom. The rest of the student body cannot see the point in studying with impending doom all around. 

As Dan tries to assure the kids that science can help them find a solution, he receives a text. He is to report to the local military facility. He is being enlisted. 

They fit him with a jump-band, a device fitted on his forearm that allows them to track him and will send him into the future. He is required to serve one hundred and sixty-eight hours. Seven days. Bummer. 

Elsewhere, Emmy is addressing a room of veterans. All of the veterans are injured or maimed in some way. Dan comes to visit her and shows her the arm sleeve. Emmy, knowing the chances of him returning from a mission are slim, wants the family to run.

Dan points out to her that they cannot run from the government. She tells him that they could if he would go and see his father. Dan is reluctant but Emmy persuades him. 

Dan goes to see his father, James (J. K. Simmons). James does not trust the government. Dan and his father are estranged. Probably abandonment issues on Dan’s part. It is hastily explained. He shows his father the bracelet but James thinks he has come to rat him out to the government and the two argue over his abandonment. So there is that. 

Dan returns home and tells Emmy he is going on deployment. He tells Muri that he is leaving. It’s emotional. Not really. At the centre for deployment, a rag-tag bunch of civilians are given the most basic military training in the history of military training. 

Amongst the group, besides Dan, is the talkative and nervous Charlie (Sam Richardson), who befriends Dan, the taciturn Dorian (Edwin Hodge), a man who is on his third tour and Diablo (Alexis Louder), a Dora Milaje escapee hanging out in the wrong film. 

Charlie tells Dan that he is in research and development. They both note that all of the assembled in the room are upwards of forty, whereas those running operations are in their twenties. As they are jumping twenty-eight years into the future, they assume it must mean they are all dead at that point. 

Norah (Mary Lynn Rajskub) asks why they could not just jump to a time before the invasion – like twenty-eight years before perhaps….? – lieutenant Tran (Alan Trong) explains some bollocks about it being two bridges and fragile and always moving forward, whatever that means. 

Norah asks why there are no pictures from the future or images of the aliens. Lieutenant Hart tells her that the powers-that-be thought it would hurt the recruitment process if people knew what they were up against. 

So the seventy percent failure rate or trauma of those that have gone before has no effect but photos of aliens would put would-be soldiers off? Right. 

Later in the hanger, as the new recruits prepare to bed down for the night, alarms start to sound. They are to be deployed immediately. The aliens are attacking the research centre and are about to win the war. The battalion is to be deployed to Miami Beach. 

As they begin to teleport to the future, there is a glitch and they appear in war-torn Miami. They get their first look at the aliens, the Whitespikes. They are multi-tentacled, fast-moving killing machines that can fire spikes from their tentacles. Lovely. 

Dan immediately takes charge of proceedings having been contacted by the future director of operations, colonel Forester (Yvonne Strahovski). The rest all follow his lead. That was easy. Forester tells them to go and rescue the research team in a specific location. 

Dan finds them but they are all dead. Forester tells them to leave as they plan to bomb the area. Aliens attack and Dan and the battalion escape to the streets. In the streets, the battalion ends up in a pitched battle with the aliens. Norah and Cowan (Mike Mitchell) sacrifice themselves for the rest of the battalion. 

Dan and Charlie wake up the next day on a military base in the Dominican Republic. They see Dorian and he tells them he is going to die of cancer in six months, which is why he keeps going on tours. Dan meets colonel Forester and finds out it is Muri in the future. She is a little cold towards him. 

Muri tells him she brought him there for a reason but he does not need to know the reason yet. She tells him that they have a special mission to get to the queen of the aliens because as a female she is immune to the toxin that she had created, even though it works on the males. 

Dan wants to know what happened in his life but Muri refuses to tell him. A team have trapped the queen Whitespike. Muni wants it captured so as she can create a fatal toxin. The alien fights, killing multiple soldiers but eventually, they capture it. Muri is not happy when Dan helps, telling him he could jeopardise the mission. 

She tells him why she is cold towards him and how he left her and her mother when she was a teenager. A few years later he was dead. Awkward. Later, at a different military base, Muri is working on creating the toxin with the heavily sedated queen in the room. Because that seems really safe…

Dan comes and assists her. Muri continues to run tests, the results improving every time. Muri tells Dan why he is there. He needs to take the toxin back to the past and recreate it. Muri finds the formula. This, strangely, brings the queen to life and she summons all of the aliens to attack the base. Why they did not attack before is anyone’s guess. 

Muri and Dan head for a helicopter as the aliens’ attack. The queen comes after them having been freed by her subjects. The aliens kill everyone on the base. Dan is close to returning to the past. Muri gives him the toxin. The queen grabs Muri. Dan grabs on to Muri and tries to save her but is sent back to the past. 

Dan tells Hart that they need to replicate the toxin and send it back to the future. Hart tells him that the jump link to the future is broken. Later, Dan speaks to Emmy about their daughter in the future and their failure to find a solution. 

Emmy who, it turns out, thinks a bit, works out that the aliens could be on the planet earlier. Of course, they could. Dan goes and sees Dorian, who had collected an alien spike on his first mission. Charlie examines the spike and finds volcanic ash on it. They need a volcano expert and….yes really, they talk to Martin. 

With Martin’s help, they work out that the aliens are frozen in the Russian tundra. Dan goes to see his father and asks him to help pilot a covert mission to Russia because he has a plane. A military plane. They head to Russia and find the aliens in an underground cavern, all in hibernation. They begin to inject the toxin into the aliens but the screams of the dying ones wake up the rest. 

Dorian tells Dan to leave. He will blow up the ship. No one else leaves. Dan goes after the queen. Dorian blows up the ship killing all the aliens and the crew except for Dan, James and Charlie. Dan and James battle against the queen. No idea where Charlie is. 

James and Dan keep fighting but Dan eventually kills the queen. Charlie reappears. Dan returns home and introduces Muri to her grandfather. The end. 

Final thoughts: The Tomorrow War is a passable, if not particularly creative, alien invasion film. It is too damn long but not unwatchably so. Directed by Chris McKay and written by Zach Dean, The Tomorrow War is almost an alien invasion film by numbers. There are scary, violent aliens, global stakes, the world pulling together, a heroic everyman and the repair of relations.

This is a film that just ticks boxes without ever giving the audience anything different. The hive/queen device is so overused in alien films and a lazy trope. I actually do not believe they pay anyone to create ‘aliens’ anymore as in every film they are now generic, screeching, multi-tentacled, razor-teethed fiends. 

Chris Pratt brings a five out of ten Pratt performance, barely needing to get out of second gear for this. Yvonne Strahovski is as good as ever but does not have anything to do. As I say, The Tomorrow War is not terrible but is not very good either. If you are a lover of alien invasion films you might enjoy this, otherwise, at a bum-numbing two-hour-and-twenty-minute runtime, you might want to give this one a miss.

Legacy of Lies

Brief synopsis: An MI6 is tasked with collecting a piece of information whilst in Russia posing as a journalist. The information can expose Russian double agents working in America. The night he goes to retrieve the information, the mission goes awry and the love of his life is killed. 

Twelve years later, the now ex-agent and single father, finds himself pulled back into the world of espionage when he is tasked with retrieving the same information once again to save his daughter’s life. 

Is it any good?: Legacy of Lies is utter rubbish. Worse still, it is boring rubbish. The film lacks pace and the acting is so wooden one would think you were watching wardrobes speak. Scott Adkins has never been a particularly impressive thespian but his films are generally entertaining. Not this one. 

Spoiler territory: MI6 agent Martin Baxter (Scott Adkins) is in Kyiv in an old bus garage. He is there with a team to oversee an exchange. He watches as a woman, code-named Red Star (Anna Siettarova) makes her way to the centre of the garage. 

Red Star is met by a car. In the car are Egor Stepanenko (Andrey Say) and Olga (Tetiana Nosenko). Martin informs his team that Egor is not alone. Red Star talks to Olga at the car window. Egor gets shot and killed. Red Star is shot in the back by a sniper and then again by another shooter. 

Martin returns fire belatedly and then runs to get a better vantage point to kill the sniper. He calls to his team, wanting to know where his back up is. They are all dead. He sees the shooter of Red Star grab the package he had come to retrieve. Martin tries to stop him but seems unable to shoot straight because….it would end the film. 

He goes over to Olga in the car. She is understandably frightened but he tells her to stay put whilst he goes looking for the shooter with the package. The shooter sneaks up on him from ten metres away but is also a terrible shot, so misses him. Martin gets up on top of the derelict buses to get a better vantage point. 

He does not use the vantage point at all but does manage to get the drop on the shooter, killing him and retrieving the package. End of the film? Nope. Martin goes to get Olga. She is gone and shots ring out at Martin. 

Another shooter has Olga. He wants the package. He threatens, unsurprisingly, to kill Olga. Martin tells him to let her go because that always works. The shooter instead decides to prove he is not joking around and shoots Olga in the hip. For her part, she whimpers a bit. Quite impressive considering she just had hot lead explode through her hip. 

Martin drops his gun and takes the bag off to give to the shooter. As he throws the bag, he pulls another gun from his back and shoots. He wakes up to the memory twelve years later, on a rainy night in Peckham in his car. The years have been kind to him, as he does not look a day older. His daughter, Lisa (Honor Kneafsey) comes to the car. 

She is an irritatingly, precocious twelve-year-old and after boring him – and us – with her new diet, tells him about the opponent he is about to face in an unlicensed cage fight. Martin does not want to hear her advice. He gives her money to go and put a bet on him. She puts a bet on the other fighter. Martin fights and gets his ass whooped, having completely ignored his daughter’s advice. 

The bookie comes and gives Lisa the money. Martin realises that she bet against him and…well, there is not much he can do except take the ego crush and be glad for the money. Back home, dad of the year candidate Martin has got a prostitute (Viktoriia Retivova) to waste some of the money getting his face beat in earned him. 

Lisa is next door with a colouring book. Back in the bedroom, the prostitute wants to see Martin’s face whilst she works, okay…she switches on a bedside lamp. Martin sees a vision of Olga and freaks out. He kicks the prostitute out. Should have left the lights off. 

The next day, Martin is teaching Lisa how to use a handgun. – okay, full disclosure. I watched this film in three sittings as it was too awful to get through all at once, so the significance of this scene is almost forgotten by the time it becomes relevant. – He tells her she needs to use the sights to focus. 

Lisa tells him she wants to go to school, settle down. Martin, ever the agent and still coveting that dad of the year award, is all about the nomad life and moving every few months. Later, Martin leaves her alone as he goes to work. He works in a club as part of the security team. Breaking up a fight in the club, he starts beating on a patron who has the temerity to fight back.

The head bouncer (Sami Karim) comes and calms him down, throwing out the battered patron. Martin goes to the front desk and is doing bag checks. A young woman talks to him. She tells him they are in the same business and need to talk. Would that be the fight business? Anyhoo, Martin’s interest is piqued. Elsewhere, a lowly employee is putting the rubbish out. He gets bashed in the head by a gunman, who uses the entrance to get him and his fellow gunmen into the club. 

Back in the main club, Martin finds the girl. Her name is Sasha Stepanenko (Yuliia Sobol). She tells him that he knew her father. Martin says she must have him mixed up. Yeah, right. Sasha takes out her phone and shows him a photo of her father with him and Olga. 

She tells him she is a journalist and wants to get the files – it’s always bloody files – as they talk, the gunmen burst into the club and open fire, supposedly trying to kill Sasha but in truth just spraying bullets around indiscriminately and causing panic. Martin drags Sasha out of there, running to the kitchen.

They run through the kitchen and push kitchen staff out of the way and throw pans around in an effort to slow down the men with guns. The kitchen is huge and the two disappear into a room. Martin takes out the gunmen. Sasha, ungrateful wretch that she is, runs off. 

Martin returns home. He finds a couple of old faces in his kitchen. Trevor (Martin McDougall) and Edwards (Leon Sua), both CIA, have come to chat. They are there to warn him. He is not to get involved with the espionage game again. Trevor wants to know if Sasha mentioned the file. Of course he does. Martin tells him the Russians have it. 

Apparently, they don’t and they are looking for it, using nerve gas to get to it. What that has to do with anything is anyone’s guess. Lisa comes into the kitchen. Trevor lets on that the files probably contain information about her mother’s death. Lisa believes her mother died in a car accident. Thanks, Trevor and your big mouth! 

Martin kicks them out. He goes to try and console Lisa, who is crying at the revelation, feeling betrayed by her father’s lies. Martin sits in the dark remembering Olga and playing with the lamplight because….moody?

The next day, he tells Lisa to get packed. They are leaving. As he goes to pack the car, he gets knocked out by a Russian. In a warehouse, a blonde, Russian stereotype (Anna Butkevich), shoots a man hanging upside down in the head. Martin, who is tied to a chair and has a gag over his mouth is dragged into the room. 

The woman sits in front of him with a file. Different file, not the one everyone is after. One of her henchmen milks his moment, as she lights a cigarette, maintaining the stereotype, and rips the gag off of Martin’s mouth. She gives Martin the cigarette, which he promptly spits out. The henchman gets another chance to shine, giving him a gut punch for his brazen disrespect. 

She gets up and tells him she wants the files. Martin says he does not know about the files. She smashes his hand with a hammer. He tells her that the Russians have it, which is a bit stupid considering she is Russian. She smashes his hand again. She shows him a video feed of Lisa colouring in – the child loves a colouring book – Martin tells her he can get the file. 

Blonde stereotype contacts her superior (Anatolii Antoniuk). He tells her that he has twenty-four hours. She relays the information to Martin. She wants the file and the journalist, dead or alive. The journalist, not the file. They take him back to his car and throw him out. Edwards is watching. 

Martin drives off, followed by Edwards. Blonde stereotype talks to Lisa. Edwards contacts Trevor to update him on Martin’s movements. Martin goes to see Maxim (Victor Solé). He wants to know where Sasha is. Maxim is a little reticent. Martin pulls a gun. He wants his phone. Maxim hands over his phone and sounds a silent alarm. 

Unfortunately for Maxim, Martin has seen John Wick and budget versions his way out of the club, killing not only Maxim but multiple bouncers along the way. Back with Lisa and the stereotype Russian, they are watching boxing and Lisa is impressing her with her knowledge of the fight game. 

Martin finds Sasha. He is going to protect her. Sasha is determined to publish the files to avenge her father’s death. They need to go to a bank. The files’ codes are in a safety deposit box. Anything to make the McGuffin more important and interesting. Doesn’t work. Martin finds Trevor’s IT man (Tom Ashley) and forces him to show him the files from twelve years before. 

There are photographs of the entire scene from his failed mission – don’t know how – and Olga has the address of the bank in her hand having been given it by Red Star. Not convoluted at all…

Trevor comes back to the makeshift headquarters with a group of soldiers, realising Martin would be there. Martin manages to evade them but ends up fighting Edwards long enough for Trevor to return with the troops. 

Bested by Edwards temporarily, Martin kicks them both out of a window. The fall kills Edwards. Martin gets up and gets into the car Sasha is waiting in. They drive off. At a dilapidated house, Martin and Sasha hideout. Martin finds the codes have been changed. Trevor finds them. 

Sasha threatens to blow her own brains out if they do not let them leave. Trevor lets them escape. Sasha and Martin head to the airport. Trevor has one of his men following them but Martin manages to lose him. At the airport, he steals a passport off of a woman who looks like Sasha. 

He contacts the stereotype blonde, whose name is Tatyana, to try and get more time. They need to fly to Kyiv to retrieve the files. Tatyana gives the phones to Lisa in an attempt to remind Martin what is at stake. IT guy spots Martin and Sasha and tells Trevor they are going to Kyiv. Trevor’s people are watching at the airport. 

Martin and Sasha go to Sasha’s old family home. They watch a news broadcast about some cold war bollocks that does not move the plot along at all. Back with Tatyana and Lisa, Lisa’s fight prediction has made them both some money. Lisa wants to know the truth about her mother’s death. 

Tatyana tells her that it was an accident. Tatyana arrives in Kyiv with Lisa in tow. She calls and tells Martin she is waiting. Martin and Sasha head to the bank to get the files. Trevor and a group of troops arrive at the bank. Martin, seeing them, goes into the bank first. 

In the vault, Trevor is caught by Martin and forced to put in the code to access the box – yeah, I’m a bit lost as well and I’ve watched this film twice! – Martin uses Trevor as a hostage to escape the bank. They jump into a car and drive off. With gunfire having been in play, the police have turned up and give chase. They are terrible drivers and quickly crash ending their pursuit. 

Away from their pursuers, a shot Martin is fooled by Sasha, who grabs his gun and shoots him again, not believing his story about wanting to save his daughter. A semi-conscious Martin sees visions of Olga. He is roused into consciousness by Tatyana calling. He lies, telling her he has the file. She tells him to meet her later that night. 

Martin calls Trevor, desperate to find Sasha. Trevor is not very helpful or willing to help him get the file to the Russians. Martin sees a clue to Sasha’s whereabouts, she is using a rented car. He finds her through the car tracking. He races to a train station to find her. Martin, who is covered in blood, chases after, the obviously frightened, Sasha through the station. Nobody bats an eyelid. 

He catches up to her and chokes her unconscious. He goes to the meeting with Tatyana. He tells her that Sasha is in a hotel with the codes. He will give her address once Lisa is safe. Tatyana gives Lisa over to her father. He tells one of Tatyana’s henchmen the hotel’s address. 

Sasha is not at the hotel. On Martin’s signal, she shoots one of the henchmen. A shootout ensues. Tatyana takes Sasha hostage and tells Martin to give her the codes. Martin throws the case with the codes and goes to shoot Tatyana. Once again, he proves to be a man of poor judgement and gets shot again. 

Tatyana is about to kill Sasha but gets killed by Lisa – see, told you the lesson earlier was relevant – Trevor and his cronies turn up. They want the codes. Sasha takes the case and jumps into the river – they were on a bridge. 

Sometime later, Martin is recovering in a scummy military hospital, still in Kyiv. Lisa is living with a foster mother. Martin apologises for not telling her about her mother. Lisa goes and tells Trevor that she has information that he does not want getting out if anything happens to her or Martin. 

Sasha publicises the files and there are riots – though, truthfully, I’ve no idea if they are supposed to be related to the files – and she is interviewed on television. So there is that. More time passes, Lisa is in school and Martin is running a country restaurant. Sasha comes to visit them. She is still being watched by the Russians. They report back to the general. He says to proceed with the operation. The end. 

Final thought: Legacy of Lies is awful. Written and directed by Adrian Bol, it is a pedestrian and laboured film that cannot seem to make its mind up as to whether it is an action film or an espionage film and failing on both counts. 

Adkins is usually good value for money when it comes to action but the action scenes are so forgettable and badly paced that his greatest strength – his martial arts prowess – is completely negated. 

The old ‘file’ McGuffin is so overdone that to make it interesting the stakes have to be quite high. The daughter angle is supposedly the high stakes but one never gets the feeling that she is in any danger of not being saved. The dead mother angle did not work particularly well either. We did not know the mother so did not care about her.

The only time we see her was mostly as a ghoulish apparition of Martin’s mind with a gunshot wound in her head. Why everybody was after the file was never properly explained and its sudden importance twelve years after the event was stretching credulity. 

At only one-hundred-minutes long, Legacy of Lies is not an overly long film but due to its pacing, feels longer than it is. The acting, even from the young Honor Kneafsey, is uniformly uninspired. I think that it is probably the mundane script, where no character stands out and the focus is somewhat muddled. 

Legacy of Lies is too ham-fisted an effort to recommend. Give this one a miss.

Hard Kill – review

Brief synopsis: A billionaire hires a group of special forces mercenaries to protect him from a terrorist that wants to kidnap him and retrieve some codes for a new program he has developed. The terrorist is known to the group. He is a man they had believed dead. The terrorist also has the billionaire’s daughter. 

Is it any good?: Hard Kill is terrible. Of course it is. Bruce Willis is in it and he has not been in a good film since the second Die Hard. Maybe the third. Willis aside, Hard Kill is a mess of a film with a convoluted story, crappy dialogue and awful performances. I would say it is, mercifully, short with a runtime of only ninety-seven minutes, but watching it is such an eye-searing torture, it feels like it is hours long. Avoid. 

Spoiler territory: In a warehouse, filmed in slow motion, a team of mercenaries are up against a small army all clad in black. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Sometime before, Eva Chalmers (Lala Kent), a blonde with too much botox in her face, is meeting in a scary, unspecified, warehouse location, with The Pardoner (Sergio Rizzuto), a terrorist and the bad guy.

We know he is the bad guy because he has a scowl and his beard is not very well tended to. Eva gives him a hard drive. It contains project 725 on it, a miracle A. I technology apparently. The Pardoner – a really stupid name for a character that I am going to have to type multiple times! – is very pleased to receive it. I think he is anyway, can’t really tell. 

As any self-respecting terrorist would be, especially if what he says is true and how it will help him change the world. He is an antagonist with a plan. It is a stupid plan but a plan nonetheless. He is going to change the world. 

The next morning, Derek Miller (Jesse Metcalfe – the pretty boy from Desperate Housewives) is woken from his slumber by his mobile phone’s alarm. He grabs his phone. There is a message. He has a meeting later in the day. For some reason, this prompts him to pray. As he prays, he remembers the conflicts he has seen. He is a soldier, his body marked by war. 

Whilst having a coffee for breakfast, Miller cleans his gun. His apartment is not exactly a palace. He gets dressed and goes to his meeting. He is picked up by a limousine. In the car is Dayton Chalmers (Bruce Willis), after a brief introduction he tells Miller that he is impressed by his service record. 

He himself was in the military – of course he was – and saw a lot of action. Now he is a tech billionaire. Miller wants to know why he switched from going to war zones to becoming a tech billionaire. Chalmers, who for some reason still wants to employ the idiot, tells him it was because of family. Okay then….

Miller wants to know who recommended him to Chalmers. The Limo picks up another passenger. It is Nick Fox (Texas Battle), the man who recommended him and an old colleague of Miller’s. The two men greet one another and Fox gets down to selling the gig to Miller. He tells him about The Pardoner and how he has stolen a piece of dangerous tech. 

There is a failsafe code that can prevent The Pardoner – argh! – using the technology fully. Only Chalmers has the code. Fox wants Miller and his team to look after him until they can retrieve the tech. Chalmers wants to check out an old warehouse site and needs protection whilst doing that. That’s the story they give him anyway. It should be an easy job and it pays well. Really well. Miller agrees to take the job. 

At a bar, Dash Hawkins (Swen Temmel), persuades his drunk buddy (Adam Huel Patter), to hit on a girl at the bar. As he heads towards the woman, Harrison Zindel (Joe Galanis), who had been playing pool and watching the scene unfold, tells Dash he is an arsehole. The drunk grabs the woman at the bar. The woman, Sasha (Natalie Eva Marie), Harrison’s sister, slams the drunk’s head into the bar, twisting his arm behind his back.

As Harrison and Dash giggle, Sasha, noting their glee, scowls at them. Miller comes into the bar and tells her to let go of the drunk. They have business to discuss. The four sit down and Miller tells them about the job that Chalmers’ has offered. Sasha is not so sure, it does not sound right. Miller tells them it is an easy protection job. Alarm bells surely? No? Okay…

Sasha agrees to do the job. Dash, at the thought of a good payday, is all in as well. Harrison does not think it is worth the hassle and wishes them good luck. Sasha, who does not watch shitty B-movie action films, persuades her brother to come along, effectively signing his death warrant. 

The next day, the team accompany Chalmers and Fox to the abandoned warehouse. On the roof of one of the many buildings, a sniper is watching them as they enter the site. Inside the building, Miller asks where the building manager is. Fox tells him there is no building manager. It was a ruse to get him and his team there. 

The Pardoner – nope. Nah. Stupid! – is meeting Chalmers there. He has his daughter – yep, the same one that gave him the tech – and wants the codes in exchange for her. Outside, the antagonist – it’s better than calling him the Pardo..! – has a small battalion of men all clad in black with face coverings, watching the building. 

He has Eva in cuffs. He grabs her by the back of the head telling her that he thought she would understand his methodology. She will understand when it is all over. All I understand is he has watched too many Bond films and is an underwhelming villain. 

Back in the warehouse, Fox is justifying his duplicity by telling Miller that all of them and their ilk, ex-military types, crave action and money. He is offering both. Miller tells him that not only did he bring them there under false pretenses, they are also undermanned and lack firepower. The rest of the team want to beat the smug out of Fox but Bruce, sorry, Chalmers tells them not to. 

They are there because of him and he would do anything to get his daughter back. Maybe he should have employed more people then, it’s not as though he could not afford to. Miller decides to try and find the safest place for Chalmers to stay whilst they try to protect him or get his daughter back or whatever…

Outside, Pardon-Bloke’s team is moving in. Miller threatens Fox, telling him if anything happens to his team he will come for him. Fox is nonplussed, as well he might be. It turns out to be an empty threat. The team heads out to face Pardon-My-French’s henchmen. The henchmen stalk around the grounds and inside the warehouse, guns at the ready. 

The team hide around corners and in alcoves and begin stacking up the bodies. Outside, Lt. Colton (Tyler Jon Olson) radios the scouting team. He gets no response, them being somewhat dead and all. He relays to Pardoned-For-Bad-Acting that Chalmers seems to have a better team than they thought. Scowling happens. He comes up with a new approach. 

In the warehouse, Miller knows that there is a bigger attack coming. The soon to be deceased Harrison bleats about the money being too easy for it to have been such an easy job. Dash, who is a bit of a rat, says they should make a run for it. They already have the money. Miller, a principled man, says he cannot leave Chalmers and his daughter. Besides, they never run from a fight. Sounds a bit punchy. 

Eva is sent to the warehouse on her own. Fox goes out to get her. She asks him if her father is there? He tells her she was the only way to get him there. She thinks he is only there for project 725. Yeah, the film is still about that apparently. Pardon-The-Pun comes out of hiding and points a gun at Eva. He sees Miller. They are old enemies but he does not bear a grudge. 

Miller does bear a grudge. That damn Pardon-Fella shot him in the back. In the back! After Pardon-my-P-and-Q’s talks a lot of bollocks about his plan and mentions project 725, he takes Eva away, his henchmen and the sniper persuading Miller and Fox to retreat to the warehouse. 

The team confront Chalmers and Fox. What is project 725? It is an artificial intelligence program but not just any A. I program. It is a quantum A. I program. Okay. Completely clear then. Eva stole it – well, she created it – and gave it to Pardon-My-Unshaven-Appearance. She wanted to help the world. 

Outside, Eva is feeling like a fool. She thought a man whose first name is ‘The’ and surname ‘Pardoner’ was going to help her solve the world’s problems. Right. He wants to help the world, he tells her, in an egotistical monologue painting himself as a saint, that he wants to reset the world. 

Back in the warehouse, Dash has retrieved weapons from all the henchmen they killed. Miller worries about darkness falling. Unfortunately, after paying Bruce, they could not afford to shoot any night scenes and at no point do we see nighttime. 

The plan, if one can call it a plan, is to hide and pick off the henchmen. So, same as before then. Dash shoots a few from the window and, even though they can see the approach to the front door, one of the henchmen has enough time to blow torch through a lock into the warehouse. 

The fact that the building has multiple entrances and windows galore and, as Pardon-Guy alluded to earlier, is a security nightmare does not dissuade the henchmen from coming through the entrance that is most likely to get them shot. In they come and the bodies fall. Colton is not happy. He asks Pardon-But-I-Don’t-Mean-To-Be-Rude if he is sure about the plan. 

Preacher-Pardon asks him if he is doubting the cause. Colton says he is not but they are losing men. Pardon-The-Lie tells him that he feels their pain. Well, that’s a lie. They’re dead. Anyway, he assures Colton he will not forget their sacrifice. Um, okay. He tells Colton to send more men to their deaths around the side entrances. Colton, the worse leader ever, complies. 

Colton leads a team into one of the rooms in the warehouse. Pardon-My-BS brings Eva and another bunch of targets into the warehouse. In the room, Miller and his team are hiding behind pillars. They have their guns trained on Pardon-Matey and his henchmen. Pardon-If-I-Speak threatens to kill Eva again and wants them to bring Chalmers to him. Eva elbows him in the stomach and runs. Miller’s team opens fire. 

They are all terrible shots and do not kill any of the henchmen before they begin to return fire. Colton’s crew come into the firefight and Harrison gets killed. Oops. Sasha gets mad and tries to shoot everyone with scant regard for her own safety. Dash pulls her out of the firing line. 

Fox gets wounded and Miller pulls him out of the firing line. Pardon-My-Backbone retreats with his henchmen. Chalmers hears the gunfire and leaves his safe room. Eva, who is running around the warehouse aimlessly, is about to get perforated by a couple of henchmen but is saved by her father. 

The team get the wounded Fox back to another room. He cannot help anymore and is bleeding badly. Unsurprisingly, Sasha wants him to die blaming him for getting Harrison killed. She then opens up the argument, making Miller and herself culpable in his death. 

Eva admits to her father that the whole situation is her fault. There really is a lot of guilt going around. They talk about family stuff and other bollocks that does not help the story at all. They hear footsteps. Chalmers gets Eva to hide and is captured by Pardon-I’m-Back. He knows he will not kill him as he needs him for project 725. 

Pardon-My-Mad plan has his henchmen bring in a massive amount of computer equipment as he pushes forward with his masterplan. He knows that Chalmers will not give him the codes and tells him so as he plays with a Rubik’s cube, to make him seem more interesting. It doesn’t work. The fact that it is already completed does not help either. 

He tells Chalmers that he is going to find Eva and torture her to get him to reveal the codes. Disappointingly, he did not follow that with a maniacal laugh. Eva continues to sneak around the warehouses, evading the henchmen. She does a terrible job and is spotted by a couple of them. She runs and hides but is found by Miller. 

The henchmen report back to Pardon-Sir-I’m-An-Idiot, who now has a tech wiz, Gemma (Jacquie Nguyen), has joined him. She is setting up the computers for project 725. Miller returns to the safe room with Eva. Eva tells the team that Pardon-The-Bad-Guy has her father and wants the codes but her father is strong. 

She goes on to bleat about the people she worked for wanting to make money from her invention. Pardon-My-Mad-Plan wants to use it to crash and erase every computer on earth and put everyone back to the Dark Ages. Told you it was convoluted. 

Eva wants them to help her stop him. Miller is up for it, he is the hero after all. Sasha wants to do it for her brother. Dash is in the room so….okay? Eva draws a plan of the warehouse layout from memory, she is a genius after all. The plan is to knock out the power so as they cannot power the….computers. That sounds more stupid the more I read it. 

They begin to execute their plan, shooting cameras on the way because Gemma has hacked into the CCTV feed and killing henchmen. Pardon-But-I-Know-You’re-Out-There comes over the tannoy system and tells Miller to give him Eva and he will let him live. Obviously, Miller does not do that and they carry on their mission. 

They get to the power room and pull the power. The computers go out. All of them. In every other film, the tech expert has a battery-powered laptop. Not in this one. Electricity goes out, everything is out. The warehouse is plunged into darkness. Well, not really. Remember I said they could not afford a night shoot? 

Miller and Sasha sneak around in the daylight – pretend night – lit warehouse, wearing night-vision goggles and shooting henchmen. Dash, who has cat vision and doesn’t need night vision goggles it seems, throws a grenade at a couple of henchmen. 

The team come together. Miller says they need to get Chalmers. Dash has a different idea, he thinks they should sell project 725 on the black market. He grabs Eva, taking her hostage. He takes her to go and find Pardon-Have-You-Seen-My-Codes. Sasha and Miller follow after him. They all run into Pardon-The-Poop-Head and more henchmen.

After a brief exchange of gunfire, Dash tries to make a deal with Pardon-Still-A-Bad-Guy and gets shot for his troubles. Eva is captured once again. Miller and Sasha return fire and kill most of the henchmen. Sasha gets winged by a bullet as she goes to Dash. Dash dies. Sasha, hard as nails, barely reacts to getting shot. 

Eva is dragged back to the computer room and plonked next to her father. Pardon-My-Ego bores them both of them stupid with a philosophical allegory. He makes more threats about project 725 and getting the codes once the generator is on. Miller gets Sasha back to the safe room. He is going it alone now. She and Fox – he has not bled to death – are to escape while he distracts…everybody. 

Miller leaves the room and goes on a killing spree, taking out multiple henchmen with a hunting knife. He even manages to sneak on to the roof and take out the sniper. It really is his fault everyone is dead. They were slowing him down! 

Pardon-My-Masterplan has his computers back online. Gemma has trepidation about the plan to destroy all the world’s data. Pardon-My-Bullying-Attitude asks her if she wants to back out. She does not say anything. He leaves and goes to try and persuade Chalmers to give him the codes, threatening to kill Eva. 

Chalmers refuses. Pardon-My-Ungentlemanly-Conduct smashes Eva in the face. Chalmers still refuses. Gemma has project 725 up and running and wants to know what they are going to destroy first as it is partially operational. Pardon-My-Smugness cannot decide. He hears gunshots. Miller has killed all of his henchmen. 

Gemma, who is only in it for the money, decides that it is time to leave. Pardon-My-Huge-Ego goes to face Miller. They fight as Chalmers and Eva free themselves from the, frankly pathetic, restraints. They go to the computer and Chalmers tells Eva that they have to destroy the program. Miller and Pardon-Beardy-Not-Good are still fighting. 

Miller is winning but Pardon-Slimy-Git gets a gun and is about to shoot him. Chalmers shoots him dead. Miller goes and finds Sasha and Fox. They go for drinks. The end. 

Final thoughts: Wow. Hard Kill is awful. With a story by Clayton Haugen and Nikolai From and a screenplay by Chris Lamont and Joe Russo – not one of the Russo brothers, no – Hard Kill is a hard film to enjoy on any level. The story is rubbish, the acting not much better and the directing, by Matt Eskandari, is borderline experimental. 

There is no sense of urgency in the film and Rizzuto’s The Pardoner is such an underwhelming villain you know he is going to lose. His plan is ludicrous and pointless and madcap. Project 725 – which should probably have been the name of the film – is just a Mcguffin that you do not care about because it is never explained properly. 

The gunplay and action are mundane, with the faceless henchmen in the film just for a body count. At just over ninety-five minutes, Hard Kill is an hour and a half of your life that you will never get back. In this post-lockdown era, there have already been enough wasted hours. Give this film a miss.

The 2nd

Brief Synopsis: a group of mercenaries are tasked with kidnapping a senator’s daughter as she leaves college for the Christmas holidays. Their plans are interrupted when a green beret, the father of one of the daughter’s friends, realises that something is not right and intervenes. 

Is it any good?: The 2nd is a pretty dumb title for a very dumb film. The story is Die Hard meets Zero Dark Thirty, with some double-cross nonsense thrown in to make it more convoluted. The acting is uniformly terrible and the script even worse. One to give a miss. 

Spoiler territory: green berets, a domestic terrorist, Hansen Cross (Anthony Oh), sporting the classic Middle Eastern looks with an added scowl, is contacted and told that his target is senator Jeffers (William Katt). He is to make it messy, so I’m guessing a big bomb. As a crowd protest outside the senator’s office building, inside Jeffers is informed that a Delta team is coming to extract him.

There has been a bomb threat. Jeffers, who is about to be interview by an attractive journalist (Reisa Miller), is eager to voice his pro-gun views to the journalist and goes ahead with the interview, even as his aide advises against it. Vic Davis (Ryan Phillippe) and Kyle (Tank Jones), the Delta unit, are on their way to pick up Jeffers. 

They flip a coin to decide who gets to pull him out of his interview. Vic wins and goes and gets the senator. On the news, it is being reported that Jeffers’ office has had a bomb threat against it. It is also reported that the CIA director, Phillips’ (Richard Burgi), daughter died in a bomb attack. He is pro-gun. 

Jeffers is with Vic and Kyle. He wants to know what is going on. Vic tells him that he is on a list of already dead politicians. Jeffers gets a call on his mobile. Vic screams at him that they are trying to track him. Why they did not secure his phone beforehand is not a question that is addressed. 

A car crashes into them. Vic tells the senator to stay behind him as multiple masked men start to shoot at them. The mask seems to make them especially stupid as most of them shoot at Vic, Kyle, the senator and the other agents who were backing them up, in full view. Maybe the mask makes them bulletproof? They do not and, even with most of the agents being terrible shots, they end up dead. 

Kyle gets captured by Cross, who is wearing a suicide vest. It does not look good for Kyle. He is a black guy and – though I don’t like to play the race card – is expendable to both the plot and follows the rules of film where the black guy dies first. He is also the sidekick of the hero, so…

Kyle, dumb hunk that he is, tells Vic to shoot Cross. Cross tells him to lower his gun. Vic listens to Cross and lowers his gun. Why? Does he really think the psychopath with the suicide vest is not going to kill Kyle? Cross points his gun at Vic. Kyle, a hero to the end, detonates Cross’ vest. They both die. 

Sometime later, Vic is going to pick up his son, Shawn (Jack Griffo), from college, so as they can spend some time together. As he packs up some gear, he drops his phone and it breaks like its 1990, immediately failing to work. His significant other, Olivia (Samaire Armstrong), comes to see him off and tell him to bond with his son.

She lost her mother at a young age, so she knows how he feels. So there is that. Vic tells her not to forget to lock the doors when she is in the house. Strange but okay…

At college, Shawn is fencing with Erin Walton (Lexi Simonsen). She wins the bout and a bet the two of them had. Shawn asks Charlie (Patrick McLain), to pay Erin. He will pay him back. Later, Erin asks Shawn when he is getting picked up. He tells her that his dad is running late. What about her? She tells him that her father is too busy with the gun-control issue and is sending a driver. 

Neal (Jacob Grodnik) comes into the gymnasium and tells all the students that they need to leave by five. Neal catches up with Erin and Shawn again and reminds them they need to leave by five. Erin tells him that she is not getting picked up until six. Neal tells her he will make an exception for her. Shawn has to leave by five. 

Vic has been slowed by traffic and is running late. At the college, Rogers (Kia Mousavi), campus security, stops Erin’s driver. He does not recognise him so he needs to check his license. The driver shoots him. Rogers, who is not going down like a punk, sounds the alarm. In the college building, Charlie asks Shawn to make sure that everybody has left the campus. 

He was meant to do it but he has to catch a flight. Erin is the only person who has not left. Shawn is reluctant to seem too pushy, as he obviously likes Erin. Charlie reminds him that he owes him. Shawn agrees to finish the check. Charlie tells him to give the list to Neal when he has finished. What could Neal be doing? 

Rogers sounding of the alarm has brought the cavalry. Driver (Casper Van Dien) waits with a cane. He is told to put the cane down. He obliges. One of the campus cops approaches him and asks who he is. Driver is not a man who likes to answer questions it seems and immediately thrust a hand into the campus cop’s throat. That will teach him not to get to close. He shoots his three colleagues and then kills him. A bit over an overreaction but it shows he is a bad man. On the campus, Shawn goes and checks on Erin to see how long she is going to take. 

Outside, Driver and a crew of five, half of whom, for no good reason, are dressed in disguise, look to capture Erin. Vic arrives at the campus. He is met by a guard – one of the crew, so that makes seven – he lets him in. He informs Driver that Vic is coming. He should not be any trouble he is there to pick up his son. Never seen Die Hard then. 

Shawn and Erin leave the campus building. Vic meets Shawn and the driver comes and takes Erin’s bag. Erin tells the driver that she has forgotten her laptop and goes back into the building. Shawn tells her he will wait until she has left as he promised Charlie he would make sure everyone had left. Erin mentions that the driver is not her usual one. 

Father and son have a stilted conversation as they wait for Erin to come back. Shawn covers his motorcycle, which just happens to be right outside of the campus. A suspicious Vic notes the crew members standing around, watching. He tells Shawn to get in the car. He is going to get Erin. Vic asks Erin to call her father, Justice Walton (Randy Charach), and check if he changed the driver. 

One of Driver’s crew, who is tracking all the electronics from a van, cuts the call just as she asks about the driver. Erin had already got the answer. He did not change the driver. Driver tells the girl in the van to cut the lights. It is not even dark, so the move makes no sense but they do it anyway. 

Vic, he’s a green beret you know, tells Erin to get down. Because that is what one does in a power cut. He checks out of the window. The crew are not doing anything differently from what they were doing before. Maybe the driver is eco-friendly. Shawn decides to go and look for his dad and Erin. 

One of the crew, posing as a cleaner, knocks on Erin’s dorm door. Driver tells the crew to move in and extract the target. This is serious. He has gone full military speak. In the van, the electrics girl is manipulating a satellite to find Erin. Yes, she is. Driver tells the rest of the crew that Vic and Shawn are expendable. Surprised they asked. 

Paula (Nicole Reddinger), is watching the building with a sniper rifle. In the building, Vic is telling Erin to stay close. Driver calls Erin. He quickly realises that she knows he is not there to help her. He tells her to put Vic on the phone. Driver tells him all the usual bollocks; surrounded, no way out, all communications on lockdown. Vic is unfazed. He is Delta! 

Driver gives him five minutes to bring Erin out. There is an hour of runtime left in the film so…anyhoo, Shawn comes across the fake cleaner. He asks him if he has seen Vic. They both go into the lift. The fake cleaner tries to kill him. Shawn, who was raised by a green beret, fights the professional mercenary. 

They fall out of the lift and Vic beats the mercenary unconscious. Director Phillips goes to visit Walton. He tells him that he has his daughter and he wants him to support some changes in amendments. Back in the college, Vic wants to get to a phone. He leaves Erin and Shawn. He gives Shawn a gun. 

Jade (Jennifer Wenger), the electrics girl, tells one of the team that they are in the lift, heading for the ground. The big lump, Rodriguez (Esteban Cueto) is fooled by the ‘old phones in the lift ruse’ and is overpowered and taken hostage by Vic. Jade calls the driver into the van. She has found out that Vic is a highly decorated green beret.

Driver tells his team, recounting, for all listening, including the kids, his violent and impressive military achievements. Shawn is shocked to find out his father has quite the body count on his resumé. Erin notices that Shawn is bleeding and insist on tending his wounds. 

Meanwhile, Vic has got to the phone and found that communications go no further than the van. Rodriguez takes the opportunity of Vic’s distraction to attack him. After getting thrown around by the much bigger Rodriguez, Vic hits him with a weights plate and kills him. 

As Erin dresses Shawn’s wounds, he tells her about his miserable upbringing and how his mum died, killed in revenge for one of his dad’s missions and how it made Vic pull away from him. Yawn. The fake cleaner, who wants to kill Vic because of the beating he took, goes after the kids. He beats on Shawn a bit and is about to Strangle Erin but is stopped as Shawn points a gun at him. 

Phillips threatens Walton. I’m still not sure if he is pro or anti-guns, it is all very unclear. Erin and Shawn hide in a closet. Jade and her magical satellite, see Vic on the side of the building. The driver tells Paula to shoot him. She cannot see him properly. Driver sends Krieg (Christopher Troy) and Rose (Kelina Rutherford) to get him. 

Paula has a shot and takes it. She tells Driver that he is down. Driver tells Krieg to confirm he is dead. Erin decides to sacrifice herself to save Shawn. She will give herself up. Vic fights Rose and Krieg. He stabs Rose and slaps Krieg with a plank. Erin runs into a security guard. He is part of the crew – there is a lot of them, I have lost count. He punches her to the ground. Shawn, who was following after her, points a gun at the fake guard. 

The guard, seeing how scared Shawn is, warns of the possible insertion to his posterior the gun is likely to make if he does not shoot him. Vic comes around the corner and obliges, shooting the guard dead. Another person turns up. It is Neal. He does not know what is going on. Vic asks if he knows another way out of the building.

Yes, there is a service tunnel. They believe him even though this is the most obvious and blatant, snake-in-the-grass double-cross in cinema, and he tells them there is an old service elevator. They go to the elevator. Vic is holding off another gunman – I have really lost count – and Neal and Erin get in the lift. Shawn goes back to help his dad, leaving Neal to take Erin. The fool! 

Neal delivers Erin to Driver and Jade. Neal asks Driver for payment. He is not a man who has watched a lot of films, obviously, and does realise what happens to rats like him! Driver beats him to death with his cane. 

Driver tells Jade to take care of the rest. So she puts a bomb in the lift and sends it back up. Boom! Driver sends a video of the captive Erin to Walton. Walton messages Phillips to tell him he has done as he asked. Okay…

Vic gets himself and Shawn out of the rubble. Driver is putting Erin in the car as Shawn and Vic get to the exit. Shawn runs to go and save Erin, even as Vic warns him there is a sniper. As Shawn shoots at Driver, Paula trains her gun on him. Somehow, Vic manages to get across the road to where Paula is perched and gets into fisticuffs with her. Paula puts up a far better fight than her two colleagues did earlier almost besting Vic. He knocks her out. 

Driver and the remaining crew leave, taking Erin. Vic jumps onto the roof of the van. Yes, he does. Shawn gets on his bike – the one conveniently parked outside the campus – and gives chase. Vic climbs into the van and throws Paula out, not very gentlemanly at all. 

He fights the fake cleaner again after the other occupant, Babcock (Gene Freeman), gets accidentally shot. The van crashes into a parked car and there is an explosion. That causes Shawn to lose control of his bike. He is uninjured but not for long. Driver shoots him through the shoulder and takes him hostage because…I do not know. 

At the location where Philips is meeting Walton, Driver arrives with the two kids. Vic gets an automatic rifle from the van and flags down Walton. He is there to help. The sign he has written in blood is enough to convince Walton. 

Back in the warehouse – it’s always a warehouse – Phillips is feeling bossy and tells Jade to drown Erin. They should get rid of Shawn as well. Walton arrives at the warehouse. He starts to run. The car blows up and Vic comes out shooting. Vic goes into the warehouse and kills multiple henchmen, all of whom are terrible shots and make no effort not to get shot themselves. 

He comes face to face with Driver. They fight. Shawn manages to overpower his captive. Out on the pier – Erin’s supposed to get drowned remember – Jade and Erin end up fencing. Shawn fights another henchman and stabs him in the neck. He grabs his gun. Vic is looking for an elusive Driver in the warehouse. 

Erin, it turns out, is not a great fencer and is overcome by Jade. Jade decides she is going to kill her with the sabre. As she is about to stab her, Shawn shoots her dead. Walton finds his daughter and Shawn on the pier. Vic and Driver keep fighting. Driver gets blown out of the window. 

Out on the pier, Phillips is about to shoot Walton. Vic comes out and tells him he has three seconds to change his mind. Phillips leaves. Back in his apartment, Phillips is met by a severely burnt Driver. Driver kills him. 

The next day, Shawn is in the hospital recovering. Vic sits by his bed. Erin comes to see him and Vic leaves the two kids alone. As Vic goes into the hospital reception, he is confronted by a man. He looks around and notes that several people are converging on him. Another man drags Olivia into the reception. Vic kicks one of the assailants in the face. The end. 

Final thoughts: The 2nd is hokum and nonsense. The story is convoluted and muddle and the acting is poor from just about everybody on show. Admittedly, the script is wretched and the actors are working with terrible material. Written by Eric Bromberg, James Bromberg and Paul Taegel, with direction by Brian Skiba, The 2nd is a real chore to watch. 

The film’s runtime is only ninety-three minutes but it feels much longer, the lacklustre fight scenes and poor camera work make it almost painful to watch. I suffered the film twice and I am still not sure whether they were for or against the second amendment, the amendment that gives the film its, frankly, stupid title. 

The 2nd is an action film with underwhelming action sequences and a story that goes nowhere. What is even more galling about the action sequences is that there are a lot of them and none of them are good or particularly memorable. 

The 2nd is not good and not worth an hour and a half of anybody’s time. That they left scope for a sequel is hubris in the extreme. Avoid.


Brief synopsis: An elite assassin is thought to be a liability to her organisation when she begins to stray from normal protocols and begins to question her missions. The head of the organisation decides that she needs to be eliminated. 

Is it any good?: Ava is an okay slightly misjudged thriller/drama. With a strong cast and a moderately good premise, Ava should have been an action thriller to equal the 2010 Angelina Jolie starrer, Salt, even if it was aiming for the far superior Charlize Theron starrer, 2017’s Atomic Blonde. 

Unfortunately, Ava suffers from being a little too heavy on drama over action and, unusually, being too short in runtime. 

Spoiler territory: Ava (Jessica Chastain), acting as a chauffeur, picks up financier, Peter Hamilton (Ioan Gruffud) at the airport. A woman on a motorcycle watches Ava picking Peter up. She greets him in French but once in the car, Peter, noting her accent is American, speaks English. The woman on the motorcycle follows them. 

Peter is taken by Ava’s attractiveness and asks her name. She tells him that she is called Brandy. He asks her what she would like to do and she tells him that she would like to stop the car and join him in the back seat for a drink. She stops the car. 

The woman on the motorcycle stops. Ava gets into the back of the car with Peter. The woman on the motorcycle gets out a directional microphone to listen in on Ava and Peter’s conversation in the car. In the car, Ava asks Peter what he did. Peter is confused. She tells him that he must have done something for someone to want him dead. 

Peter sees that she is pointing a gun at him. He begs her not to kill him. Ava wants to know what he did but can see that he does not know. Ava kills him. She contacts management to confirm the kill. The woman on the motorcycle rides off. Duke (John Malkovich) asks if there were any hiccups on the job. Ava tells him no. 

She tells Duke that she is taking a break, going to Boston. As she travels, she remembers an idyllic childhood and going off the rails in her teenage years, getting into drugs and alcohol. She found purpose in the military and served with distinction. She became a covert assassin even as her issues with substance abuse resurfaced. 

In Boston, Ava checks into a hotel. Outside a club, Alain (Efka Kvaraciejus) is tasked with keeping an eye on Ava by Duke. Ava goes for a run. She returns to her hotel room and is momentarily tempted by the mini bar in the small fridge. She receives a parcel. It is a gun, passport and cash. 

She goes out to a small club. Her sister, Judy (Jess Weixler), is in the band. After the show, Judy sees her. She is not over the moon about it. Ava disappeared from her life eight years before. Judy assumes that Ava has returned because of the email she sent her. Ava does not know about the email. Judy tells her their mother had a heart attack and is in hospital. 

The next morning, Ava and Judy visit their mother, Bobbi (Geena Davis). Bobbi is passively aggressive towards Ava, making subtle and not so subtle comments about her life and appearance. She brings up Michael (Common), Judy’s partner. 

Ava gets a new assignment. She is to kill a general, Gunther (Christopher J. Domig), in Saudi Arabia. She has to make it look like natural causes. Ava gets to Saudi and during an initial meeting with Gunther, Ava says the wrong name, alerting one of the general’s aides. Gunther, not noticing anything odd, invites Ava up to his apartment. 

In the apartment, Ava injects Gunther with a drug to kill him by inducing a heart attack. Before he dies, the general’s aides start banging on the door. Ava is forced to kill them and all the security that comes to his aide. As she escapes, she kills multiple military personnel. 

Ava goes to see Duke. The intelligence was wrong, she was given the wrong name. Duke tells her it was a typo and that management know that the error was not on her part. Duke asks her about talking to her kills. He asks her if she is using drugs again. She assures him she is not. She asks Duke if they are trying to kill her. He says they are not. It was a mistake. She tells him she is going to take some time off. 

Ava goes to see her mother and runs into Michael. They have a history so the meeting is slightly awkward. Ava goes to an addicts meeting. She tells them how she ended up leaving home after catching her father with another woman and threatening to tell her mother. 

Because she was already an addict, her father had told her that he would just tell Bobbi that she was lying to cover for her thefts. So she left and joined the army. She did not return until after he had died. Duke goes to see Simon (Colin Farrell). 

Simon is having a christening for his son. He is also the manager. He asks about Ava. He is worried that she is fallible. Duke assures him she is not and that she is the best agent they have. Simon tells Duke he will let her rest. Duke leaves. 

Simon speaks with his daughter, Camille (Diana Silvers). He wants Ava dead. He tells her to call Alain and take care of it. Camille asks what they should do about Duke? Simon is not worried about Duke. 

Ava goes for a run and is followed by Alain. As she runs through the park, he attacks and they fight. Ava manages to overcome him but when he pulls a gun, she runs. Alain goes after her and loses her by the fountains. Ava emerges from the fountain and kills him. 

Ava goes to see Duke again. Why is management trying to kill her? He tells her the company is not trying to kill her. He tells her that he told Simon not to touch her. The man who tried to kill her was a junkie. Ava is not convinced. Ava goes to dinner with Michael and Judy. Judy, who is drinking a little too much, takes offence at Michael’s conversation and starts sniping at Ava. 

Judy leaves. Michael and Ava talk for a bit. She apologises for leaving without saying anything. Michael leaves. Judy comes to see Ava. It is five in the morning and Michael has not come home. Ava asks when he started gambling again. Judy tells her that Michael never stopped gambling. Ava goes to find Michael, she knows where to look. 

She goes to see Toni (Joan Chen), who runs an underground gambling den and club. Michael is at a table with Toni and a load of other gamblers. Toni gets up to talk to her. She does not want to let Michael leave. Ava is forced to pacify several of her henchmen before they can leave. 

Michael wants to know where she has been and how she learned to fight. Ava does not tell him anything. He tells her that he wanted to marry her before she disappeared eight years ago. Ava leaves again. She returns to the hotel and goes to the bar and asks for a double scotch. She does not drink it. 

Duke goes to see Simon. He knows that he is trying to kill Ava. Simon tells him that he did not tell him because he wanted to spare his feelings. Duke tells him to rescind the kill order. Simon refuses. Duke pulls a gun on him. Camille pulls a gun on Duke. They are interrupted by Simon’s young daughter, Daniela (Simonne Stern). 

Daniela’s mother comes and gets her. Simon and Duke fight. Simon pulls a knife and slices Duke across the guts. He cuts him again, incapacitating him. Ava goes to see her mother. Bobbi admits, over a game of cards, that she was too weak to leave her husband and she knew that Ava was not lying all those years ago. 

Simon has Duke chained-up on at the of a pier. He kills him by pushing him into the lake. He films the whole lot. He sends the video to Ava and calls her to tell her who he is and that he has killed Duke. Ava tells him that she is going to kill him. She watches the video. 

Ava goes to Judy’s home and tries to persuade Michael to run off with her whilst Judy is at work. Michael tells her that Judy is pregnant. A stunned Ava leaves. She goes to see Toni. The gambling den is a nightclub at night and Ava kills multiple henchmen as she goes looking for Toni. As she beats people up, the club’s crowd disperse. Toni comes out to face her. 

Ava lets Toni beat on her for a bit and admits she wanted to steal her sister’s fiancé away from her. She tells Toni that she has killed forty-one people. She stops Toni hitting her and begins to choke her. She pays off Michael’s debts and leaves. She returns to the hotel and raids the minibar. 

Simon sneaks into her hotel room and tries to kill her. They end up fighting. They fight to a standstill. A fire alarm goes off, the hotel being evacuated. Simon leaves and tells Ava he will kill her if he sees her again. Ava gets the money and gun and passport she received when she arrived and goes after Simon. 

She catches up with Simon and kills him. She goes and sees Judy and tells her to take their mother and Michael and leave the country. She gives her money and an off-shore account number. She leaves. As she leaves, Camille follows after her. The end. 

Final thoughts: Ava is a moderately enjoyable thriller that is let down by having to compress so much story into such a short runtime. At ninety-seven minutes long, Ava is not a short film it is just that there are too many strands of story to unravel and tidy up. 

Chastain is great and believable as the lethal Ava and carries the film comfortably. The story is quite lightweight, not that it is an issue, after all, it is an action movie. Unfortunately, there is not quite enough action. It is not even a case of too much exposition, it is just too much stuff. The strange problem is the story, by Matthew Newton, is too interesting.

This makes the central story of Ava being a target, get lost in the other stories. Directed by Tate Taylor, the film looks good and is nicely directed with some interesting sound work interspersed with the visuals. All the actors are, unsurprisingly, good. Farrell manages to stay the right side of hammy and Malkovich almost steals the film with his laconic style and delivery. 

Ava moves at a good pace and entertains throughout its runtime but it is still a bit of a let down in the end.