Director: Mike Barker.
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Gerard Butler, Maria Bello.
Running Time: 90 mins.
Extras: Commentary, alternate and deleted scenes, featurettes.
Neil Randall has it all: a beautiful wife (Bello), a lovely daughter and a well-paid job with one of Chicago’s biggest advertising firms. Unfortunately for him, his whole life comes tumbling down around his ears when Pierce Brosnan, playing against type as a villain, takes an unhealthy interest. Brosnan’s psychotic Northern Irish bad guy (complete with dodgy brogue) appears in the back of Randall’s SUV, pointing a gun at Neil (Butler) and his wife Abby, before informing them that they’ll never see their daughter again unless they follow his every instruction to the letter.
And what instructions they are! First up, Brosnan makes the Randalls clear out their bank account, before torching their life savings. He then systematically destroys the high flying ad man’s career, family life and confidence, via a series of seemingly ridiculous errands. All the while, the viewer (like Butler’s character) has no idea who the former 007 is or why he’s intent on destroying everything Randall holds dear.
Taking its theme from Alexander Pope’s famous quote about exerting massive effort to achieve something minor, the plot is compelling enough to hold your attention, despite not standing up to particularly close scrutiny. The three leads are solid (Brosnan’s horrendous accent aside), although some of the characters’ actions force the viewer to suspend credibility, such as the couple engaging in a domestic in the midst of a far bigger crisis. However, Barker’s direction is pacy enough to ensure you don’t get too much time to contemplate the minutiae (at bang-on 90 minutes, it doesn’t outstay its welcome), while there are enough moments of real tension and interesting plot twists to make what could have been staid and formulaic into a reasonable but hardly inspired thriller.
For Fans Of: Cape Fear, Ransom.