You’ll struggle all year to find a film more dismal or more distasteful than this one – a film which seems likely to run its whole course without a single spark of anything resembling wit, intelligence or even originality.
And then, infuriatingly, in its closing moments it delivers an ending so good, so unexpected that you can’t help wondering whether you’ve been watching something rather better than it appeared all along.
Probably not, though.
It would take something rather more than a tricksy twisty ending to salvage anything terribly much from this sick twisted super-modern, supposedly super-slick thriller, a film with all the joy of watching some sort of shoot ‘em up video game. If that’s your thing, then this is for you. It certainly isn’t for the rest of it.
It takes something pretty violent to justify an 18 film classification these days on the grounds of violence alone without any drug-taking to send the certificate upwards. But an 18 is absolutely right for this one, a real orgy of gruesome, sudden death. The corpse count rises as the intelligence quotient falls. The low point is a wounded operative who waits by the car until the baddies have reached her and then – with a noble, self-satisfied grimace – explodes the grenades she’s holding in her hands. The film gives her barely a second before someone else is being mown down. Meanwhile, it’s impossible in the audience not to feel your heart sink with every new explosion and posturising gun-volley. Massive, massive effort has gone into this... and with no prospect of reward. The best cinema elevates; it edifies. This simply sickens.
The gist is that Mark Wahlberg is a elite mega-covert US undercover commando trying to whisk to an air strip 22 miles away the holder of top secret information. The guy is referred to as “the package”, a description which tells you everything you need to know about the level this film is pitched at. Wahlberg has got a limited and quickly dwindling number in his team to carry out the mission. The enemy has got seemingly endless numbers with which to thwart him.
Is this heroism? Is this cinematic thrill? No, it is simply a revolting conjuring of gruesome death. Until that ending... and a very partial redemption of the dross.