By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

From director Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale), comes a new action-thriller that displays his filmmaking skills when it comes to the genre, but is definitely limited by the weaknesses of the screenplay. Writer Richard Wenk penned said script, and though the movie does have some rather compelling characters, these protagonists and antagonists are in slightly messy story that never rises above the typical action-thiller tropes it embraces a little too much That said, I actually like the movie overall. Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson are partly to thank for that.

Q stars as Anna Dutton, the adopted daughter of Moody Dutton (Samuel L. Jackson), an assassin-for-hire who decides to rescue Anna as a child, after finishing a job in Vietnam. During her upbringing, Moody trains Anna to be as skilled when it comes to self-defense and killing. Though their relationship is not the typical father/daughter one, they both care very much for one another.

As Moody gets older, weaker, and actually ailing with an undisclosed illness, Anna is set to take over the family business. Moody’s demise, however, comes much sooner than expected when some hired killers take him out as revenge for a job he did a long time ago. Anna decides to investigate into the people responsible for his death which leads her to cross paths with a mysterious man named Rembrandt (Michael Keaton) who gets tasked with cleaning up all loose ends related to Moody’s death. What Rembrandt doesn’t count on is the fact that he is so utterly captivated and infatuated with Anna who actually starts to develop a reciprocal attraction to him.

And that steamy and tense relationship is another positive aspect of the story which actually kept me somewhat invested. Other than that, the writing of the story is pretty thin and unimaginative. I enjoyed the action sequences and the characters, but I feel that all of the positive aspects of this movie would have been so much better had, the producers hired another writer or other writers to tweak the script some. The movie had the potential of being another great action flick that could rival John Wick, but gets held back by its formulaic aspects and unusual choices that simply don’t pay off.

I suppose that if this movie were to achieve enough success, it could lead to another better installment or two. The characters are great, and the performances by their respective actors are equally great. Maggie Q has the perfect steely intensity, focus, and wit to make her an incredibly sexy assassin with whom anyone could fall in love. The great Michael Keaton may have grown older and grayer, but he has such an impressive command of his characters and a wonderful screen presence that could make anyone of any age adore. Both he and Maggie Q share a fiery hot chemistry that feels akin to the chemistry he shares with Michelle Pfeifer in Batman Returns.

As Moody, Samuel L Jackson may simply appear to be doing his best Samuel L. Jackson, but he always manages to make this approach work for so many of his characters. The man has the perfect theatrical style that demands one’s attention and makes compelling cases for his characters. The movie also features some welcome performances and appearances by Robert Patrick, Patrick Malahide, and David Rintoul, and Ray Fearon.

Now though, this movie obviously has its problems, I am going to give it a moderate recommendation. It has enough good in it to deserve some attention by movie audiences, and my hope, my chief desire is that the movie will be successful enough that we might get a sequel out of it. I just hope that any sequel attempted by the movie producers and any filmmakers will take the foundations lain for this movie and do something wonderful and exciting.

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