Survivor (2015) Blu-ray Review

Milla Jovovich and Pierce Brosnan collide in this menial thriller

Cheap, processed 9/11 fears fuel Survivor, a routine terrorism tale which finds Milla Jovovich running from a stone faced Pierce Brosnan. Production values cycle in – a live explosion of a restaurant, for example – but without enough energy to carry the feature in full.

Jovovich’s Foreign Service Officer is feisty, an actress continuing to define women in action roles, and thankfully this time without any zombies running her down. Survivor at least feels legitimate. It is a moody, even patient thriller, fond of shadows with frequent chases to relieve built up pressure. Too much of the film is spent bickering over Jovovich’s innocence after she is knowingly framed. The audience is only hearing regurgitation.

And there’s the story: Jovovich proving her known innocence to her home agency as domestic terrorists try and execute their own plot – on New Years Eve – without her interference. The film has pep, but it’s vague. Survivor adores those intense stares eying exposition-filled computer screens as files are transferred to USB drives. The drama is mostly false though. Survivor is comfortable cinema; bad guys won’t win.

Brosnan, ages way from his gig as Bond, becomes a worse shot than a Star Wars Stormtrooper. The man cannot hit anything, and defies his age by spectacularly slipping down electrical lines in a foot chase, aimlessly firing his pistol at range – hardly the assassin he’s supposedly portraying.

It’s exploitation of tragedy. Survivor thus feels dirty.

Survivor falls back on fear as a propellant. Jovovich recalls images of 9/11, a small but defining characteristic to her Kate Abbott. However, the device is not used for anything. It’s exploitation of tragedy. Survivor thus feels dirty. Plus Survivor goes further, breaking through the opening credits with a bombastic action scene set in an unspecified Arabic country. The extensive firefight is almost meaningless but suits the veil of paranoia.

The film is not a response to anything. There’s no statement. It closes on a statistic regarding foiled terrorist plots as if Survivor were a true story. Maybe this is a rare pro-Foreign Service Officer film? Are there any others? Either way, Survivor is menial in tension and unproductive.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Boom @ 24:02

Dulled with thick teals, Survivor is not much to look at. Colors are dour unless panning over a cityscape full of lights which seem to be in defiance over the lack of saturation. Few scenes escape the routine post production color grading scheme.

Under lit with purpose, the film is low on fine detail. Jovovich is aggressively smoothed in a few shots, mostly anomalies considering the rest. Facial definition is generally clean when present, and lighter shadows keep detail visible as characters slip into frequent dark spaces. Black levels are rarely aggressive. Neither is the contrast, although the coloring is responsible. Whites quickly fall prey to the teal slant.

Millennium’s encode is fine, leaving images clear and devoid of any noise or errant compression artifacts. Sharpness is, overall, only mild. Though the action scenes reveal a film with a solid financial grounding, the visual side reveals the crunch of lower budget filmmaking.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

Survivor’s case lists TrueHD. The disc menu lists TrueHD. But, Survivor’s Blu-ray only offers a Dolby Digital mix. Given the limited reach of the film, it is an error which is unlikely to be corrected.

Outside of that snafu, the soundscape is pleasing. Opening scenes track in helicopters, missiles, bullets, rifle shots, and a few explosions, Surrounds and the LFE are well used. All action scenes follow the expected formula. Gunfire is consistently being pushed into the rears, although the stereos feel a touch ignored. A handful of close range explosions are quite rich and spread debris throughout the soundfield.

Ambiance is also key. Subway tunnels make a concerted effort to maintain a strong echo. Outdoor scenes in cities capture cars moving in all directions, front or rear speakers. With the finish set in Times Square during New Years Eve, the mass of people offer opportunity as well. It’s a shame the audio format was bungled.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

A five-minute featurette is menial, mostly dealing in plot recap. Five deleted scenes (10 minutes work) are likewise unremarkable.

Extras ★★☆☆☆ 

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.