All is fair in the spy game. Or least that is the principle that this film embraces, as every character attempts to get the upper hand on the others. Though the film is not without its thrilling moments, it does take a bit of time to get to those thrilling bits. Told in a nonlinear fashion, it takes a moment to adjust to the constant shift between the two plots. It is only when things start to synch that I found myself completely engaged with the story. On the plus side, the film has a cast of recognizable faces, to include Arrow’s Katie Cassidy, The Cleaning Lady’s Adan Canto, Chicago Fire’s Annie Ilonzeh, Dermot Mulroney, and last but not least, Mel Gibson. While I would not categorize the film as box office quality, there are some elements that make for an intriguing story once things get into a groove.
It should have been a straightforward op, the kind that they’ve done hundreds of times over a career spanning decades. But from the very beginning, CIA officers Bill (Jason Isaacs) and Harris (Mulroney) sense that there is something suspicious about the assignment. It’s an interrogation at a black site of a man recently granted political asylum after speaking out against a dictator. The intelligence tells them that the man’s group has extremist affiliations. But from the moment they speak with him, he appears nothing like he’s supposed to. Complicating matters is a new member to their team (Ilonzeh), who’s pushing for more direct measures, or perhaps a better word would be enhanced, in order to get information. Either way, something isn’t sitting right with Harris and Bill.
Meanwhile, a group of rough-around-the-edges private military contractors (Canto and Cassidy) are recruited to conduct an extraction of a high-value target and render him to a black site. This op is also not what it appears to be, and things quickly go sideways for the team, as it is clear that the person that they’ve come to retrieve is expecting them. Suspicious of everyone, including each other, this team finds themselves in over their heads from the moment that they acquire their target.
So on the surface, these two events seem disconnected, especially for the viewers, as we are thrown back and forth between these two storylines. This constant back-and-forth did become a little grating, as we were usually shifted to the other storyline just as things started to get interesting. I imagine this was intended to build suspense and intrigue, but more often than not, it was kind of annoying. However, once the two storylines synched, matters became more interesting as twist is introduced. As far as twists go, this one wasn’t too surprising, as matters from the very beginning are clearly not what they seem. The story could have done with a bit more context regarding the overall motivation for the deception. It was not hard to figure it out, but it is never explicitly stated.
The film embraces a fair bit of cloak and dagger in order to shroud the identity of our high-value target, but truth be told, it is not difficult to figure it out. If you are a fan of suspense and thrillers, I imagine that your vast experience with the genre will have you accurately concluding who is under the hood before it officially comes off.
The film also does host a decent amount of action. Unrealistic action, but beggars can’t be choosers. When I say unrealistic, I mean the reckless disregard for ammunition. It was as if bullets were candy, and in this case they clearly were, because the amount of bullets expended on both sides of the firefight far exceeds the amount that anyone would be able to carry. Maybe it is my tactical brain, but I would have expected that our underdogs would have been conserving ammunition given that they were going into an unknown situation with no idea how many combatants they would face. Instead, they literally spent the whole time going full auto with what appeared to be a limitless supply of bullets. Again, perhaps I’m overthinking it, but it just was a little difficult to swallow.
The story is left open-ended. I suspect this was done with the hope of sparking a sequel. While the film does have it moments, I find it unlikely that a sequel will be forthcoming. As a result, it means that details regarding the greater conspiracy are unlikely to be answered. That’s unfortunate, as I would like to know how the story would have resolved as well as the antagonist’s endgame. I suppose I’ll just have to hope that I am wrong about the likelihood of a follow-up movie.