London faces a biological attack in this starry but preposterous thriller.


Noomi Rapace


Once you have put aside any higher expectations and have recognised Unlocked for what it is, the film's one claim to acceptability is that it is lively hokum. That adjustment is necessary because the cast is a distinguished one and the director is that accomplished veteran Michael Apted, but it is Peter O'Brien's screenplay that sets the tone.


Noomi Rapace plays Alice, a one-time CIA operative living in London who is lured back in despite having turned her back on her former work due to her deep but misguided sense of guilt over an operation that went disastrously wrong. Now she has to save the world from the consequences of a biological attack set up to take place in London. MI5 represented by Toni Collette also plays a part, but the summons to Alice comes from a CIA boss man (John Malkovich) and she renews contact with their London representative (Michael Douglas). Saving the day initially finds her questioning a courier employed by a mullah: this man has been intercepted well ahead of making the contact which is expected to trigger the attack. However, Alice soon finds that she is being played by people who are misleading her and, indeed, it soon becomes clear that the CIA have been infiltrated by somebody who intends that the plot far from being prevented should go ahead.


Rapace brings an impressive presence to her role and footage depicting terrorist attacks suggests initially that Unlocked will be a serious thriller, but then a stranger (Orlando Bloom) saves the endangered Alice while delivering jokey dialogue that belongs in a fun movie. That tone is not  maintained, but the twists and turns of the plot that follow suggest less the kind of spying realities expected from, say, John Le Carré than a  thriller totally divorced from credibility right down to a climax that features the fictional cliché of a showdown against the clock. If in that respect Unlocked follows a tradition well established in cinema, the one novelty is that, in a gesture emulating recent movies from Disney, the lead actress is the central figure here. While the other players keep a straight face, Rapace commands the film while Apted in conjunction with his editor Andrew Macritchie gives it pace.  But their endeavours, creditable as they are, cannot make Unlocked anything more than a passing diversion for those in the mood for a fast moving tale that never  bothers its head about plausibility.




Cast: Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Michael Douglas, Michael Epp, Tosin Cole, Aymen Hamdouchi, Makram J. Khoury, Matthew Marsh, Brian Caspe, Akshay Kumar, Philip Brodie.


Dir Michael Apted, Pro Georgina Townsley, Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Erik Howsam and Claudia Bluemhuber, Screenplay Peter O'Brien, Ph George Richmond, Pro Des Ondrej Nekvasil, Ed Andrew Macritchie, Music Stephen Barton, Costumes Bojana Nikitovic.


Silver Reel/Di Bonaventura/Bloom/SRA Productions/LipSync-Lionsgate UK.
98 mins. UK/USA. 2017. Rel: 5 May 2017. Cert. 15.