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Survivor Blu-ray Review

Survivor (2015) movie poster Survivor

Theatrical Release: May 29, 2015 / Running Time: 96 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: James McTeigue / Writer: Philip Shelby

Cast: Milla Jovovich (Katharine Abbott), Pierce Brosnan (Nash), Dylan McDermott (Sam Parker), Angela Bassett (Ambassador Maureen Crane), Robert Forster (Bill Talbot), James D'Arcy (Paul Anderson), Frances de la Tour (Sally), Roger Rees (Emil Balan), Benno Fόrmann (Pavlou)

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Survivor, an action thriller that captures the political landscape of a post-9/11 world without a trace of timeliness, crosses the career paths of a variety of figures. There is James McTeigue, the Wachowskis' Matrix trilogy first AD who made a confident directing debut on V for Vendetta but has struggled since.
There is Philip Shelby, a longtime novelist making his Hollywood debut. There is producer Irwin Winkler, an industry veteran best known for the Rocky franchise and a number of Martin Scorsese films. There is Milla Jovovich, an international action star who isn't much appreciated in the adopted homeland that steadily employs her. And there is Pierce Brosnan, who is finally beginning to experience the lull that is inevitable for a sixtysomething former James Bond.

These five individuals have work to be proud of, but Survivor isn't among it. There is almost nothing at all interesting or memorable about this generic spy movie. The film opens with two American soldiers captured in Afghanistan, one of them doused in gasoline and set on fire. You'll likely have long forgotten that prologue by the time it takes on some meaning. After that, we are directed to the US Embassy in London, where new security officer Kate Abbott (Jovovich) and others are trying to stop terrorists from getting legitimate visas.

Milla Jovovich is a survivor. She's not gon give up. She's not gon stop. She's gon work harder.

Mere days after Christmas, Kate tries to stop a Romanian doctor (Roger Rees) whose expertise in combustible gases raises red flags. Her superior Bill Talbot (Robert Forster) dismisses her concerns and clears the doctor, a widower who lost his wife to bureaucratic red tape. Kate's instincts were well-founded, though. While she and her colleagues await Bill's arrival for a restaurant birthday meal, the place is hit with a bomb. Kate, who we're told lost some of her best friends on 9/11, narrowly survives the incident, only to be named a suspect by those who have their suspicions about her.

We know better. The bad guys in this film are Eastern European and are led by one of the world's most wanted assassins, a man nicknamed The Watchmaker (Brosnan) whose nature is announced with an ominous theme that always accompanies him Peter and the Wolf-style. The Watchmaker mixes explosives, offs collaborators he doesn't need, and occasionally dons a mustache. With New Year's Eve approaching, you can probably surmise the intended target for the Watchmaker's planned destruction. Adopting a false identity and dodging both her suspicious peers and the evildoers tracking her, Kate eventually boards a plane for New York City.

Pierce Brosnan doesn't always wear a monocle and a mustache, but when he does, he looks great. If Dylan McDermott makes a phone call and no one is there to care, does he really make a phone call?!

It is tough to understand why some movies are barely given a theatrical release. Not Survivor. This is a film whose only apparent purpose is to give Jovovich a chance to do something outside her signature Resident Evil series. Those mid-level zombie action flicks have consistently performed okay in America while doing big business in the rest of the world. You assume that Jovovich isn't essential to their success, but she's starred in every one of them, so who can say for sure?
What can be said with some certainty is that no one is clamoring for Jovovich to apply her talents to other films and genres. Her global popularity seems to vanish when zombies aren't being slayed in 3D. Though this film rests on Jovovich's 39-year-old shoulders, the marketing made her share the spotlight with Brosnan, no huge draw in anything of late.

With critics almost universally panning the film, it is no wonder that Alchemy, the former Millennium Films, barely bothered with a theatrical release in late May, less than a month before bringing this to DVD and Blu-ray today.

The movie tries to take the subject of anti-terrorism seriously, but its PG-13 violence (big on body-cracking sounds) and profanity (which includes multiple F-bombs, not permitted in PG-13 until recently) make that a little difficult. So too does the end credits' decision to fashion 3D models of American landmarks out of letters and numbers. What is this movie and what chance does McTeigue have of securing the glory he once seemed destined for?!

Survivor Blu-ray Disc cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($19.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video


Survivor may be a subpar film, but its visuals are certainly par. The 2.40:1 element stays sharp, spotless and vibrant throughout, even with Alchemy characteristically devoting minimal single-layered disc space to it. Though the menu and packaging indicate a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack keeping with Alchemy tradition, the Blu-ray in fact only possesses a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix by default. The 448 kbps SD mix may not be the lossless track Blu-ray viewers have come to expect, but it still does a fine job of dispensing the explosion-heavy sound.

Director James McTeigue explains "The Making of 'Survivor.'" Pierce Brosnan looks a bit blue in this deleted scene.


Survivor's Blu-ray includes three HD bonus features.

First up, "The Making of Survivor" (5:25) is a short yet earnest featurette that supplies the cast and crew comments to better understand this project.

Next come five deleted scenes (10:39). These include a number of extended sequences, but most notably establish a romantic relationship between Kate and her trusted colleague Sam Parker (Dylan McDermott) with a steamy shower love scene.

Finally, Survivor's theatrical trailer (2:11) joins the four that play at disc insertion on the Previews submenu. Those promote Killing Mr. Heineken, Dawn Patrol, By the Gun, and Automata.

Naturally, the menu loops a scored montage of generic actiony shots. The Blu-ray does not allow you to set bookmarks, but does resume unfinished playback like a DVD does.

The insert-less standard blue keepcase is topped by an ordinary cardboard slipcover.

The name's Brosnan. Pierce Brosnan.


Survivor is a bad movie, though one polished enough for you not to easily recognize it as such. Even so, you'll have to notice how ordinary, tired, and hollow this almost immediately forgotten action spy thriller is.

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Related Reviews:
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Milla Jovovich: He Got Game • Stone • Dazed and Confused | Pierce Brosnan: I Don't Know How She Does It • The World's End
Dylan McDermott: Freezer • Automata • Olympus Has Fallen | Directed by James McTeigue: The Raven
Robert Forster: Jackie Brown
Salt • Persecuted • The Numbers Station • Erased

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Reviewed June 23, 2015.

Text copyright 2015 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2015 Alchemy, Nu Image, Millennium Films, and Winkler Films.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.