“Unlocked”

 

            It's an old trick in espionage thrillers.  There's the clandestine activity, of course.  But then there's the mole within the organization, the “leak” that threatens to corrupt the operation, and compromise the participants.  It's hard enough when you're fighting powerful enemies.  But how do you find out which of your friends is the betrayer?

            Alice Racine (Noomi Rapace) is a CIA undercover agent in London who's now operating well below the radar.  Her “cover” is an employment counselor.  That's really her own choice, because a couple of years ago she was a field agent whose non-violent interrogation techniques were so successful that she actually uncovered the terrorist plot to blow up a bridge in Paris.  But her information was too late.  And the blood of the innocents still haunts her.  So, for now, she's content with underachieving.  And meanwhile, patiently continuing her personal contact with MI6, her British counterpart, in the person of Emily Knowles (Toni Collette), and also with her mentor, Eric Lasch (Michael Douglas), who keeps encouraging her to put the past in the past, and take on a bigger role again. 

            Then the CIA uncovers 

a terrorist plot involving biological warfare, targeting Wembley Stadium during a popular American football match.  The big boss (John Malkovich) asks Alice to help find out who's behind it, and stop it before disaster strikes.

            Alice discovers that the whole CIA organization is compromised, and she barely escapes several tough scrapes before she begins to learn that the enemies within are more dangerous and well-organized than anyone thought.  The breathless labyrinth of dead drops, double-takes, and deception catches the viewer in the same web of intrigue as the character, who must decide whom to trust.  And people are not always who they appear to be, even the random thief (Orlando Bloom). 

            We'd like to think we have agents as good as Alice Racine who are out there somewhere, protecting us not only from the fire-breathing jihadists, but also from all those who aid and abet them, even in the name of misplaced patriotism.

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)                  When have you encountered a situation where people were not who they appeared to be?

2)                  When have you discovered that those closest to you were betraying you?

3)                  What are some of our most vulnerable targets for terrorism?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association