I feel I should have enjoyed this film more than I actually did. The subject matter was interesting – the corruption resulting from the privatisation of the security service (or “spies” as we used to call them). All those jobs which were previously done by James Bond have now been apparently outsourced to a fictional company whose name is so bland that I’ve forgotten it already. Which is slightly problematic when they’re in the business of random drone attacks.
Just as well that there is one man who is prepared to stand up against this. After the spy and central Asia expert Martin has an affair with an investigational journalist and she gets killed in a faked terror attack, he is determined to find the truth, no matter how many toes he treads on. Stop me if you’ve heard this plot 1000 times before.
I think that’s my problem really. For all its pretensions to speak truth to power, the film doesn’t really offer us anything new. There’s lots of crashy-bangy things of convoys being blown up or attacked by random groups of terrorists, but each time, Martin survives as the last man standing with blood ostentatiously flecked on his cheek.
(by the way, Martin should take the occasional trip to a bathroom. Even when he’s back in Big Spy Headquarters in Germany, the blood is still there making him look rugged but not so great at personal hygiene).
Added to that, there’s the little matter of it all being made up. Its set in somewhere called Tsaristan or something similar, on the border with Afghanistan, which means that while the film is making all sorts of pious complaints about What Is Happening To The World, you feel that this is just a story being told, so there’s no harm in the end.
Ultimately, there’s just very little jeopardy. You know that Martin will emerge unscathed (apart from those flecks of blood), and you know that those up at the top will still be there at the end, even if they may have to sacrifice one of their own. Though there are times when you don’t quite get why when Martin produces damning evidence that might work against them, they don’t just take it off him and have him escorted out of the building.
Ultimately its another film that takes itself too seriously for me. I’m not excited enough by things being blown up and the “intrigue” aspect didn’t intrigue me. I’m sure it has its audience though, somewhere.