Of all the things necessary to make a screen thriller work, “urgency” has to rank at the top of the list.
That’s conveyed via direction, editing, sometimes a pulse-pounding score, but most importantly in a script that expresses high stakes and a clock ticking down to “doom,” and actors who convince us that they believe that.
“The Complex: Lockdown” fails at that as badly as any recent thriller I’ve checked out of late.
Sleepwalking performances, a lack of action and a general ennui behind the camera cripple this bio-terrorism thriller, which takes place in an “Andromeda Strain” lab complex under assault by those who would cover up a genocide, protected by a crusading doctor/researcher and her scientist ex.
“The Complex” began life as a video game/interactive movie. Does that explain the flat, emotionless turn by leading lady Michelle Mylett, who stars in that and in “Lockdown.”
I won’t say everybody in this dulls it down. But the static turns don’t exactly animate a movie where a lot of the “action” and debating is done via video phone.
Mylett is Dr. Amy Tennant, an “American” (Mylett is Canadian) “Doctors without Borders” type familiar with many a combat zone. Bio warfare isn’t just for Syrian dictators and their Russian masters any more.
She’s never keen on being teamed with Dr. Rees Wakefield (Al Weaver, not bad). They had a “thing,” we realize. We don’t realize that until they’re confronted with terrorist infiltration of their elaborate Kensington Corp labs.
A woman (Kim Adis, giving the best performance among some pretty bad ones) who stole the experimental computer-driven nano stem cells that Dr. Amy has been developing for space travel surgery and healing. Letting that stuff loose in London would be catastrophic.
Not that Mylett lets us feel that. Her Scottish boss, Nathalie Kensington (Kate Dickie), can’t get the curled, burred words out fast enough to jolt the good doctor out of her torpor.
Villains in hazmat suits toting automatic weapons are punching through “the void,” a ballroom-sized vacuum chamber entrance to the lab. You’d think the urgency would enter the this no-thrills thriller at this point.
But Mylett’s monotonous Dr. Amy doesn’t break a sweat and speaks as if she’s Siri ordering pizza.
“I’m not a murderer…This is madness. There has to be a way for her to survive…She has to pay for what she’s done…Nice work, Dr. Wakefield…End call.”
A good character and actress to carry all the exposition in the finale, BTW.
A couple of good action beats and two good lines adorn “Lockdown.”
“I listen to liars every day. You’re not a good one.”
“I knew there was something about Malkin, What kind of scientist wears a pony tail?”
But that finale. Damn. And pretty much every scene before it? Damn.
MPAA Rating: violence, profanity
Cast: Michelle Mylett, Al Weaver, Kim Adis, Okorie Chukwu, Kate Dickie and Rachel Petladwala
Credits: Directed by Paul Raschid, script by Lynn Renee Maxcy. A Giant Pictures release.
Running time: 1:18