By: John M Jerva
The shadowy world of government spooks and black ops is a world that isn’t made for the faint of heart. If one doesn’t have thick skin, you will certainly not last long when the preverbal shit hits the fan.
So is the case of Saban Films’ latest action-thriller titled Agent Game which just hit today in select theaters as well as VOD. Director Grant S. Johnson weaves a rather complex tale of who’s good and who can’t be trusted in a film that jumps back and forth between the present day and the past. Grant does pull everything together eventually but not until a lot of ammo is spent and bodies litter the floor when the dust settles.
Agent Game features the one and only Mel Gibson who seems to be taking up the mantle of DTV cameos now that Bruce Willis is retiring from the business. Even with the baggage that Gibson has due to his past behavioral issues, he still is a force to be reckoned with on screen and even if it’s only for a handful of scenes.
The film opens with Gibson’s Olsen, who is a high-ranking “deep state” CIA administrator, having a very bad day as his peaceful afternoon is interrupted as he shoots at a mysterious van making a getaway. Olsen then takes out his phone and announces to the party on the other side that they most definitely have a problem.
Fast forward to the present day and we are introduced to a unit of elite government operatives who are on a dangerous mission to retrieve a high value target. The team consists of ex-military man Kavinsky (Adan Canto), femme fatale Miller (Arrow’s Katie Cassidy) and wide cracking operative Reece (Rhys Coiro).
The mission, of course, doesn’t go to plan and two other members of the team are executed by the target before Kavinsky and Reece can subdue the mysterious package. With their target in hand, the three surviving operatives catch a plane to deliver whoever it is to whoever wants him.
Agent Game actually has three times lines running at the same time as the action travels back in time five weeks and there weeks and we are introduced to three other characters named Bill (Jason Isaacs) and Harris (Dermot Mulroney) as well as Visser (Annie Ilonzeh) who are running a black site interrogation of a prisoner suspected of terrorism in a non disclosed European country.
As time goes by, Bill begins to suspect that the man, known simply as Omar (Barkhad Abdi of Captain Phillips fame), is telling the truth and that he isn’t as dangerous as Olsen is saying. Harris is onboard but Visser, who we come to find out is working for Olsen on a different capacity, is dead set on continuing the interrogation.
Another time line wedged in between the other two shows us Olsen handpicking Kavinsky, Miller and Reece for the mission we saw at the beginning. Through a series of interviews, we come to find out a little more about our operatives and what is driving them. Later on, we actually find out why Olsen selected these particular candidates.
OK, stay with me. We had back to present day with our operatives on the plane and during the flight, Kavinsky begins to discover that things are not on the up and up as he starts to receive mysterious texts on his phone. Through some tension filled scenes, the three agents begin to doubt the person next to them and who the hell is actually the person they are transporting. We don’t see the prisoner of course as they have a bag over their head but if you are like me, you’ll start to piece it together.
OK, now back to the black site in Europe and the realization that Visser is there to carry out a secret mission for Olsen which culminates in the death of Omar and Bill with Harris executing his escape. This is one of the film’s action scenes and it is important to remember leading up to the big reveal later on so just be patient.
All this action crosses together in the high-octane finale where a lot of massive firepower is on display and the body count is large. I was pleased to see how much bang I got for my buck and that the initial teaser was as advertised.
I’m going to spoil some things here so if you want to watch first then stop reading and come back later for more fun. You have been warned.
Once Kavinsky and the others land with their prisoner in tow, they are ordered to go to an abandon warehouse where Visser is waiting for them. It is here where we find out that the HVT is none other than Harris who is looking to expose Olsen and his nefarious intentions and he’s been the one who has been sending Kavinsky the cryptic messages on the plane.
Guess what happens next? If you said a major firefight ensues between our heroes and Visser along with the black ops crew that has been sent to kill everyone, including Visser, then you’d be right. Give yourself a pat on the back. By the way, can I just say I love an action movie when one character asks another character what they’re going to do to which the other said character says “we’re going to kill them all.” I’m a sucker for that and I feel it should be in every action flick.
Agent Game doesn’t look to reinvent the wheel but it does offer a nice diversion with some twists and turns that’ll make you keep watching. The cast are all solid in their roles and there was actually more action than I thought there would be which is always a plus.
The movie runs at a brisk 90 minutes in length and even though the action scenes are relegated to the opening and the climax, there’s still enough going on with the constantly moving plot to keep viewers invested in and even though we know Gibson is not a nice guy, he still sells his limited screen time.
I enjoyed the banter between Kavinsky, Miller and Reece and thought they made a good team even if they were just getting to know each other. Their scenes on the plane were taut and interesting and it was kind of fun to see this whole plot come together.
The three agents have more screen time as Gibson, Isaacs and Mulroney do but they are in the film enough to satisfy fans of each actor. Just keep in mind, Gibson like Bruce Willis of late is more of an extended cameo once again just like his other recent outing Panama. Sometimes I forgot he was even in the movie until he showed up again.
I’m sure there will be the usual suspects of reviewers who will look to bash this film but once again, and you may call me out as always, I enjoyed this one for what it was which is a decent time waster. The biggest complaint that people may have is how it jumps around from past to present but I thought it was a decent devise and made this one a little different. It’s not the greatest movie ever but it’s certainly not horrible by any stretch of the imagination. This is the kind of film that wears its intentions on its sleeve so you should know what you’re getting into before you turn it on seeing that it’s a DTV actioner.
The climatic shootout is pretty kick ass if I can use simplistic terms to describe it. Our stalwart agents along with Harris take on the black ops clean up team in a hail of bullets, rad looking CGI muzzle fire that lights up the dark and explosions that catapult stuntmen into the air in slow motion. It’s a lengthy altercation that is loud and boisterous and it satisfied my itch for adrenaline and violent tendencies. What’s not to like? The choreography isn’t John Woo like but it still did it’s job.
Before I wrap it all up, I’m gonna point out a few more negatives which didn’t sit well with me. First, of all, the movie is left open ended with no real resolution and the reveal that there is a much larger shadowy figure pulling all the strings of this conspiracy. I don’t know if the filmmakers intend on a sequel, which I don’t think we need, or if they were just making a realistic statement in saying “hey, life doesn’t always end neatly with the bad guys getting what’s coming to them.” You can see for yourself in that regard.
Also, I would like to point out that I would like to see CIA based thriller that shows the good side to this world. I’m not a part of it but I know it’s not all deceit and double crosses with ruthless administrators and chiefs eliminating innocent people. Or maybe it is, I digress. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When I watch an action movie, I want to see bullets fly and things go boom and sometimes it’s as simple as that. Agent Game provided all that.
Overall, Agent Game was a pleasant surprise as I really didn’t know anything about the film until I saw the trailer when it was released. The big names in Mulroney, Isaacs and Gibson all carry their weight and the rest of the cast are not too shabby either. This is a conspiracy thriller with bullet riddled mayhem to compliment it and that’s right in my wheelhouse so if you go into it with an open mind and accept that it plays around with the timeline then you should enjoy it for what it is.
The action is decent and the climax pumps some adrenaline into the proceedings. Unfortunately, things are left open so if you’re like my wife and you need resolution, then you won’t like this one. For everyone else, enjoy the ride and the black ops rush it delivers for a DTV effort.