Opening 30 Apr 2015
Democrat Congo Republic, 2006: Humanitarians lives are increasingly endangered as different factions fight for control of the richly diverse mineral resources. Ex-Special Forces cum private international military contractors are hired to protect non-governmental organizations (NGO) staff; downtime is spent trying to forget the day. Felix (Javier Bardem) – his eyes say everything – relinquishes his place beside Annie (Jasmine Trinca), a NGO doctor, when team member Jim (Sean Penn) arrives at the camp’s hangout. The next day patrolling, the security group goes operational; the mandate is clear – whoever shoots disappears afterward. Fast-forward eight years: Jim, now working for a NGO, flees after a carload of gun-brandishing brutes terrorizes natives looking for “the white man”. Quick exit to London, then Europe: betrayed, Jim contacts past associates, ruthless greed mongers, and his unforgettable love. Racing against time and relentless odds, Jim tries to uncover the root of the dilemma.
This espionage thriller’s, based on Jean-Patrick Manchette’s The Prone Gunman, forte is action. Director Pierre Morel lets tension build as the characters’ interwoven stories emerge, as the adrenalin-heightening hunt intensifies, as the players multiply and advance. Penn credibly conveys the honed veteran and its flip side, as Bardem is an amalgamation of adroitness and madness. Mark Rylance’s cunning, Idris Elba’s astute restraint, and Ray Winstone’s winsome dependability add vivacity to the rather common plot. Trinca controls her part nicely, considering the relationship angle plays second fiddle. With Flavio Martínez Labiano’s admirably sinister camerawork, commendable editing by Frédéric Thoraval, and Marco Beltrami’s approbatory music, watching this cat-and-mouse struggle assures an energy-packed encounter. (Marinell Haegelin)