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Unlocked (2017) Review

Unlocked is a 2017 action/mystery film about a CIA interrogator who is lured into a ruse that puts London at risk of a biological attack.

It’s gotten to the point where all you need to see is Noomi Rapace‘s name in the credits and you can pretty much bet that if anything, you’re gonna get something special, at least from her. That counts again in Michael Apted‘s new thriller Unlocked that actually has several good turns by some accomplished names in a film that unfortunately plays it safe and ends up a fairly rote experience.

Alice Racine (Rapace) is a highly-skilled and respected CIA operative who lives under the shadow of a terrorist attack in Paris a few years earlier, one that she blames herself for allowing to happen. Sitting behind a desk now, undercover as a social worker, she rejects offers to get back into the fold until her old mentor Eric (Michael Douglas) and MI5 Agent Knowles (Toni Collette) ask for help to interrogate a courier snagged on the way to deliver something to a man named Mercer, about a planned ISIS attack. Or so it seems. She gets vital information but soon realizes that something is terribly wrong and escapes just in time, putting her on the run, unable to know who to trust.

There was a time when a film like this would be all about trusting the audience to do some work of their own, building a mystery around the characters and clues so that we become almost part of the process. Times have changed though and most films have becomes rudimentary and linear, following a path of least resistance. Such is the case with Unlocked, a competently-made film to be sure with some strong performances that ultimately connects the limited dots in a fairly straight line. There are a lot of players in the mix, including John Malkovich as a CIA bigwig who isn’t sure he can trust Alice and Orlando Bloom as an ex-Marine turned burglar named Jack Alcott who gets pulled into the fray but adding layers doesn’t help.

Unlocked, 2017 © Czech Anglo Productions

Unlocked has a great premise and under different circumstances could have been a smart thriller but the film is relentlessly pedestrian, overly-expositional and even as it tries hard to keep us fooled, rarely succeeds in doing so. Apted, who has been down the road before, has proved he can be very good at building tension and concealing a mystery. His 1983 Soviet-themed Gorky Park is a minor masterpiece. Here though, despite a few good action moments, Unlocked can’t offer anything more than a standard, by the numbers watch. Tonally, it swings from authentic to cartoonish, and while Alice remains a genuinely solid character, Malkovich plays it too close to the trope and Bloom is far too silly, never making it easy to get behind. Collette is also good but underused. She makes a good character out her role but it’s left to the peripheral.

The only reason to really put the time into this is for Rapace, who is the best thing going. Her recent work in Tommy Wirkola‘s What Happened To Monday is a wonder and here again, the chameleon-like actress delivers another strong turn as a powerful woman, making her the only thing compelling about the film. It’s just too bad the story couldn’t have been more interesting, lacking the momentum the genre demands and a greater sense of mystery the premise promises.

Unlocked (2017) Review

Movie description: Unlocked is a 2017 action/mystery film about a CIA interrogator who is lured into a ruse that puts London at risk of a biological attack.

Director(s): Michael Apted

Actor(s): Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Toni Collette

Genre: Action

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