Review – Unlocked

Poster for 2017 action thriller Unlocked

Genre: Action
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 5th May 2017
Runtime: 98 minutes
Director: Michael Apted
Writer: Peter O’Brien
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas, John Malkovich, Toni Collette, Jessica Boone
Synopsis: A former CIA interrogator living in the UK is duped into revealing information that could put Britain at risk of an act of biological terrorism, with a conspiracy embedded deep within the intelligence services.



Occasionally, a film comes along that is genuinely baffling in its ability to acquire a roster of mainstream, A-list stars. Unlocked is a B-movie in every sense of the word and it’s frankly bizarre that it ever made it into multiplexes, let alone with an array of talent as remarkable as it has. This is a bargain basement thriller with a top-shelf cast, but that’s not enough to rescue it from wallowing in a seemingly endless selection of lowest common denominator genre clichés.

Alice (Noomi Rapace) is a former CIA interrogator stationed in a London office role after a traumatic event left her unwilling to work in the field. She is watched over by handler Eric (Michael Douglas), but he is unaware that she has been duped by someone posing as a fellow agent into interrogating a terror suspect as part of a plot to carry out a chemical attack on London. Soon, CIA head honcho Bob (John Malkovich) becomes involved and Alice ends up on the run with petty crook Jack (Orlando Bloom) as an enormous conspiracy begins to unravel in the heart of the intelligence services.

It’s almost impressive how little imagination is on show in Unlocked. This is a film that sticks so steadfastly to played out genre clichés that one character actually unironically says the words “I’m too old for this shit” in a third act scene. There are characters waiting for others in dark rooms, people falling down lift shafts, faked deaths and just about every other dismal stereotype you’d imagine from an espionage conspiracy movie. They are all assembled in a slapdash style by first-time movie screenwriter Peter O’Brien to produce something that’s an incoherent mess of storytelling.



Noomi Rapace does her best to hold the thing together with a typically dependable leading performance, but she’s constantly forced to garble exposition and handle story elements that should really be the responsibility of Michael Apted‘s direction. An entire cavalcade of other reliable names, from Michael Douglas to John Malkovich and Toni Collette, are all given laughable reams of dialogue to deliver and are handed so many double-crosses that it’s never quite clear whose side anyone is on – even when the plot reaches its resolution.

Unlocked, though, has a truly special flaw in the shape of Orlando Bloom. The Pirates of the Caribbean star pops up early on in the movie as a petty burglar and soon becomes the only friend of Rapace’s character. He is saddled with a dreadful Cockney accent that comes across as a sad combination of Dick Van Dyke and Jason Statham. It’s an utterly pitiful performance that is entirely at odds with the rather po-faced seriousness that leaves the rest of the movie entirely lacking in any joy or entertainment value.

This is a film that limps towards its conclusion by floating along on a raft of predictability. Unlocked doesn’t deal in surprises or shocks and it certainly doesn’t create any characters worth sympathising for. It’s a drab and dull tale of blood and violence, with an unbelievable plot and a telegraphed ending. Its finale even suggests that these might be characters that Apted – or another gullible filmmaker – decides to return to in the future. That’s a sequel no one wants to see.


Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

There are a dozen thrillers as bad as Unlocked released almost every week, but most of them never trouble multiplexes and end up filling up the bargain bin at your local Asda. This is only ushered into the big leagues by its hefty cast, but the material doesn’t even come close to matching the talent. The whole thing is way off target.


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