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  1. Published on: 24/09/2018 04:20 PMReported by: Film Critic
    Plot: An elite intelligence officer and his team aim to smuggle a mysterious man with sensitive information out of the country.

    When you hear director Peter Berg and actor Mar Wahlberg are back together with a new film, it is a must see.

    It began with the brilliantly tense Lone Survivor, followed by the action-filled drama Deepwater Horizon and then the powerful and tense Patriots Day.

    Whilst all of those have been based on recent true events, this fourth collaboration between them is a work of fiction.

    With a promising including The Raid's very own superstar Iko Uwais, I was certainly for another white-knuckle ride.

    It certainly starts really well. There is a super-tense action scene to begin proceedings. The action is really gritty I was already on the edge of my seat. The violence was brutal and times, and we were underway with a top opening.

    After that, I was really struggling to understand what the story was being told. The way it was edited and structured made it unnecessarily incoherent. There are some non-linear and flashback moments that just further confused things and by then I was losing patience with the film.

    Then every so often, there would be some great action sequences. But no matter how the jerky camerawork and over-editing tried to downgrade it, I could see the quality on show.

    By the time I worked some sort of story, it was a bit of a let down. So in the end, I just relied on the action which prevented from being a total loss. By the time the credits roll, I felt really disappointed.

    The performances like the film had good parts and bad parts.

    Mark Wahlberg surprisingly ended up being rather annoying. Many people will know he's a very capable actor and has given us many top performances. But this one was quite shocking.

    Firstly, he's talking at 100mph and you sometimes struggle as to what he's saying. Also, some of the stuff he says is quite unnecessarily cruel and nasty. Whether or not he was directed to be like that is irrelevant, this was not his finest hour.

    It was great seeing Iko Uwais being cast. After his breakthrough success in The Raid franchise, Uwais for many people could be a huge action star for many future mainstream films. In this, the action is similar to The Raid which always a joy. Some of the improvisation he does in his fighting moments reminded me of Jackie Chan. In terms of the acting, it was fine but nothing special.

    Also, I was happy to see the gorgeous Lauren Cohen involved. Famed for her work in The Walking Dead, it was nice to watch Cohen on the big screen instead. She did a solid job, never felt out of place with the gritty tone and really enhanced the tense moments for me.

    I had mixed feelings seeing MMA fighter now turned wrestler Ronda Rousey's name on the cast list. It's safe to say her acting skills are still being developed. But I was positive that would make great use of her strengths in the action scenes. They did that up to a point and her acting is showing clear signs of improvement. I would happily see her be given more opportunities in minor roles in future action films.

    John Malkovich is also in here in a minor role. He isn't given much to work with, but does what you expect of him.

    As mentioned before, the action is really good and is by far the films biggest strength. It certainly is worthy of being an 18 rated film, it's brutal, tense and at time the choreography is top notch. That was mainly thanks to Uwais' contribution. But the bad camerawork just never utilised those scenes. The best fight scenes just have the camera fairly still, let the scene breathe and let us appreciate the skills put on show. As much as Uwais had many scene-stealing moments, this could have made the real start of the film.

    Another positive is probably the look of it. It's fitted the tone well and further enhanced the action.

    But I am gutted to find so many problems with this film. What was even worse is that they were all unforced errors. If they went for even a conventional approach to the look of the film, it would have been a good watch. But instead they went for the shaky-cam tactic, edited it to within an inch of its life and put in flashbacks and flash-forwards that almost felt purposeful to confuse us for some reason.

    Also the writing wasn't great, especially the dialogue Wahlberg was given. It made him look like a very unlikable character and that is not a great help when he is the lead protagonist.

    I was not expecting to say that this could well be my biggest disappointment of the year. With Berg's collaboration history with Wahlberg being so strong, you expect so much. What should have been an easy success ended up being a massively incoherent story with an erratic execution with some very good action that is over-edited. In the end, it becomes a somewhat hot-mess. There is some really good stuff in here, but the makers themselves just ruin it in the way it was shot, written and put together. Those are major aspects in any film that you need to get right, otherwise you're in trouble.

    Rating: 6/10
     

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