Under the Radar

'Unlocked' is an Old-Fashioned Espionage Thriller


"Unlocked" is an old-fashioned Cold War spy thriller reworked for the age of Islamist terror. The movie somehow didn't get a theatrical run in the USA, despite the presence of prestige director Michael Apted (Bond #19 "The World is Not Enough," "Coal Miner's Daughter") and an all-star cast featuring Noomi Rapace ("Prometheus," "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"), Orlando Bloom ("Pirates of the Caribbean," "The Lord of the Rings"), Michael Douglas ("Wall Street," "Ant-Man") John Malkovich ("In the Line of Fire," "Burn After Reading") and Toni Collette ("The Sixth Sense," "Little Miss Sunshine").

Loaded with talent.

Another thing that makes this different from those 60s spy thrillers with Michael Caine or Laurence Harvey is that Noomi Rapace plays Alice Racine, the lead CIA agent who's stepped away from the fray after she broke an interrogation suspect too late to prevent a Paris attack.  Her mentor Michael Douglas lures her back to help prevent a biological terror attack on an American football game in London.

Malkovich is the CIA station head who may or may not be on her side. Bloom is the former UK special forces soldier who comes to Alice's aid after the things go sideways the first time. Collette is UK intelligence operative who seems to be on her side.

Rapace can handle the fighting and weapons required but this movie isn't aiming for the same visceral thrills offered by contemporary movies like "Atomic Blonde" or "John Wick." It's about spy craft and motivations and loyalties as much as it is about punching, kicking and shooting. Maybe that's why it didn't get a theatrical release in America, but there's still nothing like a traditional espionage movie for fans of the genre.

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