From the director of Nightwatch and Daywatch, both confusing but visually spectacular urban Russian fantasies, comes a film about bullet bending master assassins duking it out among the glitzy skyscrapers of generic American metropolis 2B. We both sauntered down to the pictures to take a look.
One of the first rules when writing anything that you expect your viewers to care about is to not have your protaganist be an insufferable dick. Not even the charming and hitherto brilliant James MacAvoy can turn around this character, who opens as an irritating office drone with an anxiety disorder, riddled with apathy and an emo take on his existence, and closes as a heartless killer. On top of this the writer thought it would be a good idea to have MacAvoy repeatedly insult the audience to the extent that you actually just want to stick your fingers in his eye sockets and wiggle them around vigorously so his frontal lobe comes leaking out of his ears.
As Morgan Freeman explains, MacAvoy’s anxiety attacks turn out to be bullet-time inducing heart palpitations, a disorder that only belongs to a select few bloodlines. As Freeman continues to exposit with grave seriousness:”Your heart is beating over 400 times a minute, pumping extra adrenaline into your brain.” 400 times a minute!? At that rate I’m fairly sure your love muscle would simply explode forth from your ribcage, falling to the floor and vibrating loudly like a fat bloody dildo. Normally when Morgan Freeman says something I just accept it. It’s something about his voice, but not even his considerable pathos can force me to accept anything that happens in this film. Also, he swears. Morgan Freeman doesn’t swear. It’s an effect akin to the Pope dopping his robes and jiggling his wang around at Sunday Mass.
But it’s not really fair to try and take this film seriously, if you can get past some of the pretensions it has of being a critique of modern life then you might at least enjoy the action sequences, which are noisy and almost painfully ludicrous. Beyond these there’s always Angelina Jolie, who is by far the best part of the entire experience, playing the cool and determined badass so well it’s hard to imagine anyone bettering her. Aside from this, the experience plays out as a confused mashup of the Matrix and Fight Club, but without the character or imagination of either.