August 25, 2018 – This slick action movie reminded me a lot of a violent heist movie in which nothing is exactly what it seems to be. We have spies and counter spies, double agents and triple agents, all entangled in gun battles, car chases and a desperate race against time on foreign soil.
Mark Wahlberg stars as James Silva, the emotionally damaged leader of a CIA task force code named Overwatch on missions to secure radioactive cesium, a dirty bomb element that could kill hundreds of thousands of people. His team raids a Russian safe house in search of information on the cesium. All the Russian agents are killed in the raid. Not all of the cesium is found.
Over a year later, an Indonesian double agent, Li Noor (Iko Uwais of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) negotiates for safe passage out of Indonesia in return for telling the Americans where the rest of the cesium is being kept. The information is on an encrypted computer drive that will erase itself in hours, unless Noor provides the password.
The Indonesian government does not want Noor to leave the country. Government agents try to kill Noor while he is in custody at the American embassy, but Noor, a former Special Forces soldier is a highly skilled fighter (Iko Uwais is, in real life, a master of the Indonesian martial art of Silat). He fights off his attackers in spectacular fashion.
Unable to force, or persuade, Noor to give up the password, Overwatch is instructed to escort Noor to an airstrip 22 miles away, where he will be flown out of the country in return for the password. The trip to the airstrip becomes a gauntlet which takes up most of the movie, with a large number of soldiers and police trying to kill or capture Noor.
Noor starts out as a prisoner, but by necessity, he becomes a virtual member of Overwatch as the team is decimated by hordes of attackers. Silva, the team leader, is a thoroughly unlikable, blunt fellow who has no talent for social niceties. He is ruthless when it comes to completing the mission. He does have a soft spot for one team member, however, Alice (Lauren Cohan of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”).
Alice is trying to maintain a relationship with her son, while traveling around the globe putting out fires for the CIA. A good deal of time in the film is spent on Alice and her family issues. Not so much time is spent on Silva, a somewhat more complicated person.
From early on in the film, we see that there are other forces in play in this story who are stacking the deck against Overwatch, tapping into the supposedly secure communications network the team uses, and even shadowing the headquarters of the commanders giving the orders to Overwatch, led by Bishop (John Malkovich of “Deepwater Horizon”).
The motives behind the sinister actions of this shadowy bunch are not revealed until the end of the film, but once revealed, all becomes clear. The motive is older than civilization itself. The CIA messed with the wrong person. The ending of the film is somewhat ambiguous and it leaves openings for a sequel. A sequel seems unlikely as the film has not been very successful at the box office, reviews are mostly negative and audience scores seem to be on the low side as well. Some of us liked it anyway.
The acting is solid. The action is non-stop and there are some great fight scenes. The quality of this film is pretty much in line with previous films directed by Peter Berg, who has previously collaborated with Wahlberg in “Deepwater Horizon,” “Lone Survivor” and “Patriots Day.” This movie rates a B.
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