Film review: Brosnan and Jovovich team up for spy action-thriller Survivor

In a break with tradition, Pierce Brosnan is the baddie for once in Survivor.

Milla Jovovich in Survivor. Courtesy Nu Image Films
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Director: James McTeigh

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Milla Jovovich, Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett

Three stars

When you've played a role as seminal as James Bond, which Pierce Brosnan did in four films over eight years from 1997 to 2005, it can't be easy to shake off the shackles of what is your career-defining role. Brosnan has made a remarkably good job of it, though, appearing in various films from the daft-as-it gets Abba musical Mamma Mia! to the Roman Polanski Silver Bear-winning The Ghost Writer, and even narrating Michael Apted's The Official Film of the 2006 Fifa World Cup along the way.

More recently, Brosnan has taken something of a return to his roots. Last year's The November Man was an enjoyable if unspectacular romp that saw Brosnan's retired spy team up with former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko to foil a worldwide terrorist plot. Now, Survivor sees him back in the spy-terrorist-evil plot fold as notorious assassin The Watchmaker.

In a break with tradition, Brosnan is the baddie this time, and he’s even developed a nervous twitch at the corner of his mouth, surely the method actor’s way of saying: “I am slightly unstable and definitely not James Bond or Remington Steele.”

The film fits into the same enjoyable, if unspectacular, slot as November Man. Milla Jovovich is the usual rogue security operative, framed for a crime she didn't commit and forced to go on the run from her own employers, in this instance to foil a faintly ludicrous plot to fill the NYE Ball in Times Square (New York, not Dubai) with explosive gas and wipe out the millions below. Dylan McDermott portrays the loyal boss who knows she is innocent even though all around him have passed their judgement. And Brosnan is the international hitman hired to take her out before she can stop the evildoers in their tracks.

It’s a well-worn formula, and in fairness it’s been done better plenty of times. The holes in the plot are many – who actually are the baddies? Why, when London is the most CCTV-covered city in the world, do Jovovich’s bosses not notice that Brosnan has tried to shoot her in the street on numerous occasions, and give her just a tiny bit of benefit of the doubt? How does the most-wanted woman in the world wander through both London and New York customs with serious facial injuries, and no one bats an eyelid? How does the world’s most-feared assassin manage to effortlessly eliminate everyone put before him, except for Jovovich’s glorified data-entry clerk from the embassy of the United States?

The list goes on, but it doesn't really matter, because Survivor is 96 minutes of rip-roaring action, with heavyweight actors managing to paper over some of the glaring plot holes with their performances. Watch without prejudice, and you'll enjoy it.

Survivor is out in cinemas now