A bomb disposal thriller should usually be good for some cheesy entertainment. But this feels generic and unexcitingly acted, a by-the-numbers bit of work, remade from the 2015 Spanish movie El Desconocido, or The Stranger, starring Luis Tosar, which was itself borrowing heavily from such high-concept Hollywood jeopardy items as Speed and Phone Booth. And putting Liam Neeson in this new version is all too clearly designed to appeal to another customer fanbase, that of Neeson’s kidnap drama franchise Taken.
Neeson plays the role of Matt Turner, a financial trader living in a lavish house in Berlin. He is overworked and anxious about his clients’ reactions to his risky investment advice. He is also oblivious to the fact that his marriage is falling apart due to his neglect. One morning, Matt’s wife Heather (played by Embeth Davidtz) urgently asks him to take their two children to school while on their way to an important meeting. As they drive, they are startled by a strange ringtone coming from a mobile phone placed near the front passenger seat by an unseen person. A distorted voice on the phone makes demands and reveals that a bomb has been activated under Matt’s seat, set to explode if he gets out of the car.
The entertainment provided is in the form of guilty pleasure thrills, but they are overshadowed by Liam Neeson’s lackluster performance, which is a disappointment considering his talent. The script also challenges the audience’s patience with unrealistic scenarios and casual mentions of supposedly easily accessible services on the “dark web”. It would be refreshing to see a film, whether based on truth or fiction, accurately portray the capabilities of the “dark web”. Ultimately, this film falls short and ends with a whimper instead of a bang.