The reserved Euro-thriller “The Host” has the sheen of an art film and the plot of an old film noir. That’s a formula that’s been successful before; but here, for some reason, it lacks zing. Director Andy Newbery — working from a script credited to four writers — makes the story look classy but can’t find its beating heart.
Mike Beckingham stars as Robert Atkinson, a desperate young Londoner in the process of squandering a promising future in finance. He agrees to earn some much-needed money by ferrying a briefcase to Amsterdam, but almost as soon as he arrives, Robert realizes he’s put himself in debt to some very dangerous people. He also sees that the local woman who’s supposed to help him out — a classic femme fatale type named Vera Tribbe, played by Maryam Hassouni — has an agenda of her own.
Hassouni’s take on Vera is often the best thing about “The Host.” She’s at once seductive and secretive, and ultimately a much better-rounded character than the movie’s ostensible hero — not to mention being more interesting than Robert’s younger brother, Steve (played by Dougie Poynter), who arrives to try to clean up his messes.
Still, for the most part the only truly memorable element in “The Host” is its vision of these two old, opulent European capitals. As framed by Newbery, London and Amsterdam are so attractive and ritzy that it’s easy to see why anyone would scramble to survive in them. The characters’ motivations always remain crystal clear, even when their story is dull.
Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes
Playing: Galaxy Mission Grove, Riverside; also on VOD