snapshot: Unlocked (2017)

Czech Republic, Switzerland, UK, US / 98 minutes / color / Silver Reel, di B, Bloom, Sira, Lipsync Dir: Michael Apted Pr: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Georgina Townsley, Erik Howsam, Claudia Bluemhuber Scr: Peter O’Brien Cine: George Richmond Cast: Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Michael Douglas, Tosin Cole, Matthew Marsh, Makram J. Khoury, Brian Caspe, Philip Brodie, Michael Epp, Aymen Hamdouchi, Akshay Kumar, Robert Alexander Russell, Rami Nasr, Lauren Jessica Boone, Olivette Cole-Wilson.

As this movie’s closing credits rolled, I sat back with a sigh of satisfaction. An old-fashioned edge-of-your-seat yarn, excellently told, with some genuine surprises and a thoroughly admirable, likeable protagonist. All this and Noomi Rapace in kickass form. What could be better? They should make more movies like this . . .

And then I discovered one reason why they don’t.

Apparently Unlocked was roasted by the critics on release for not bringing anything new to the table—for being old-fashioned, in other words.

To which all I can respond is: I’m a big fan of mold-breakers, but there’s room for old-fashioned too, y’know.

Noomi Rapace as Alice Racine.

CIA interrogator Alice Racine (Rapace) was one of the best, but a couple of years ago an operation went pear-shaped in Paris, innocents died, and she had to get away from the game. Now she works in a community center in London, liaising with MI5’s Emily Knowles (Collette) whenever she trips over anything that might be of use to counterterrorism.

But then Frank Sutter (Marsh) of the CIA’s London division reels her in. Islamic spiritual leader Yazid Khaleel (Khoury) is sending a messenger to terrorist David Mercer (Epp) about the proposed release of a deadly virus into a packed Wembley Stadium; Alice must get the message out of the courier, Lateef (Hamdouchi), so the CIA can substitute a ringer to give Mercer the altered instructions of their choice.

Toni Collette as Emily Knowles.

At the last possible moment, Alice smells a rat, and so begins a constantly twisting escapade in which she must uncover a conspiracy of MAGA-style traitors, try to stop the virus release at Wembley and the thousands if not millions of deaths that might ensue, and of course save her own life.

John Malkovich as Bob Hunter.

Aymen Hamdouchi as Lateef.

En route she’s aided by her boss in Langley, Bob Hunter (Malkovich), a resourceful burglar called Jack Alcott (Bloom), one of her teenaged informers, Amjad (Cole), and her old CIA overseer, Eric Lasch (Douglas). There’s no guarantee anyone is quite what they seem at first.

Tosin Cole as Amjad.

Orlando Bloom as Jack Alcott.

If you ever feel nostalgic for London, as I occasionally do, George Richmond’s cinematography is likely to have you near tears; in fact, the opening sequence is almost a tourist ad for the main attractions of the capital, from Tower Bridge to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. The greatest triumph of the cinematography is, though—at least for me—in a series of distant scenes within the packed elevators of a packed Wembley Stadium, which is made to seem almost like a sciencefictional venue, the hi-tech surrounds jarring with the individuality of so many of the passengers we see in those elevators. It’s as if we’re being asked to recognize the dichotomy between the terrorists’ view of the hordes (these are just bodies to be later counted, the bigger the number the better) with Alice’s (these are all unique human beings, each one of them precious).

Michael Epp as David Mercer.

If you like to watch old-fashioned thrillers from time to time, as I do (yes, I admit it, I enjoy the Mission Impossible movies too), you may well find Unlocked really quite splendid, as I did.

Michael Douglas as Eric Lasch.

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17 thoughts on “snapshot: Unlocked (2017)

    • It’s a pretty good movie, I think — one of the better of its kind I’ve seen recently. Anything with Noomi Rapace tends to get my vote, ever since I saw her as Lisbeth Salander.

  1. Gosh, I’d never even heard of this one! That’s a great cast list. Like Col, I’m a fan of Toni Colette. (Just me, or does anyone else think she looks like Annie Lennox in that screenshot?)

    • Just me, or does anyone else think she looks like Annie Lennox in that screenshot?

      That’s exactly what Pam and I exclaimed when she first appeared in this movie. In fact, for a few moments we thought she was Annie Lennox.

    • I’m a huge Noomi Rapace fan too. I even enjoyed the Robert Downey Holmes she was in because of her participation, and I was staggered by how good she was as Lisbeth Salander. As you say, very versatile: she seems able to transform any role.

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