So many moving parts are at work in the ambitious if tepid political thriller "Survivor," one wishes writer Philip Shelby and director James McTeigue ("V for Vendetta") could have found a cleaner, more involving way to get to the film's big-idea climax.
Milla Jovovich plays Bruce Willis — er, Kate Abbott — an American security specialist newly hired to work at the U.S. Embassy in London. She can do it all: suss out potential terrorists via their dubious visa applications, survive a fatal restaurant explosion, thwack and whack the countless baddies in her way, and get to so many places so quickly she might as well be wearing a flying cape. (Kate's third act trip from London to New York is a marvel of narrative hopscotch.)
Most notable, however, is Kate's ability to hold her own against the ruthless assassin, Nash (a stony Pierce Brosnan), who's behind a plan to devastate Times Square on New Year's Eve. That he wants the dogged Kate out of the way proves easier said than done. But like so much else here, credibility strains at most every turn.
Amid the choppy action and whirl of sketchy characters lie muddled messages about revenge, greed, war, hubris and the endless ripple effects of 9/11. Clunky dialogue ("We have to stop him, Sally!") doesn't help.
Jovovich, who works hard, and Brosnan, who doesn't, are joined by such reliable actors as Dylan McDermott, Roger Rees, Robert Forster, James D'Arcy, Frances de la Tour and Angela Bassett (in a thankless part as a stubborn ambassador). Can you say, "Paycheck, please?"
MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence, action, brief strong language.
Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.