I didn't know what to expect with this one. This was a recommendation from a couple of good friends back in Pittsburgh. They have demonstrated some very good taste (the country music notwithstanding) and I figured I could trust their opinions.
I like Sean Bean. He's a good actor, and he can play an action role with a bit more personality than most action stars. Yes, that personality is usually the brooding sociopath, but it's an interesting brooding sociopath. He's got enough range as an actor to play a romantic or touching scene, and he's got enough range as an action guy to make quick joint locks believable.
In this movie, which comes off as a kind of lower-budget James Bond movie, the quick edits during the fight scenes overwhelm you into thinking that there is something really interesting going on just out of shot, but you never actually get to see it.The edits are reminiscent of the Borne movies with their rapidly changing camera angles and unsteady footing of the cameraman. It makes me long to re-watch Enter the Dragon to see Bruce Lee's full body in a long shot with multiple attackers and various weapons. Even Jackie Chan would be a good counterpoint to this style of directing.
The movie drags right in the middle, but the action scenes try valiantly to keep it afloat. The storyline is the oft rehashed disassociated Muslim youth who becomes marginalized to the point of action against his perceived oppressors. Where the story drags is while he's struggling with the idea of killing for his religion. It's a lot of internal conflict, and it's just really hard to make internal conflict external and interesting at the same time.There is a twist toward the end, and I won't say it was entirely unexpected, but it was interesting. The final scene was worth waiting through the slow middle.
I think my initial assertion that this is a lower-budget James Bond is a bit harsh sounding. The fact is, this might have been a much better movie if it had even half the budget that the recent Bond movies got. The script needed a work-over, and the cinematography was really kind of second-rate. The performances (well, most of them) were really good, and the movie was enjoyable overall.