You’ve seen the movie “Survivor” before, although it may have had a slightly less mundane title, such as “North by Northwest,” “The Bourne Identity” or “The Fugitive.” “Survivor” borrows heavily from all of them; it’s a taut yet hackneyed thriller about a wrongly accused fugitive with the authorities close behind.
At least there’s a tiny twist here: The person on the run is a woman.
Action staple Milla Jovovich plays Kate Abbott, a recent hire at the American Embassy in London. She’s in charge of security, making sure potential terrorists don’t score American visas. She’s good at her job, too, which makes her unpopular with a group of killers who are plotting an attack on American soil. The crew sends a relentless assassin (Pierce Brosnan) after her. He goes by the code name Watchmaker, and when his plot to blow up Kate in a restaurant bombing goes awry, the terrorists try a different approach: Make her the prime suspect for the deadly blast.
Suddenly Kate’s face is flashing across every television in England, and she has to figure out how to evade both corrupt police officers and the icy, unyielding Watchmaker. Meanwhile, she has to solve the mystery of what these terrorists are plotting so that she can stop the attack before it kills a million Americans.
That’s a tall order, but any fan of the genre knows it’s completely doable.
There’s no question where any of this is going, and although the chase can be entertaining at times, the movie is ultimately forgettable. “The Fugitive” felt fresh because of its well-drawn, wry characters, and the “Bourne” franchise has heart-pounding action sequences and car chases. “Survivor,” by comparison, is a shell, following the rules of the genre without adding anything new. When Kate escapes from an evil police officer (James D’Arcy) into the tunnels of the London Underground, it seems like a perfect opportunity for a thrilling and death-defying chase involving near misses with fast trains. No such luck.
Director James McTeigue frequently collaborates with the visionary Wachowski siblings, and he directed “V for Vendetta.” How the man who blew up Parliament in such memorably spectacular fashion can’t add some originality to Philip Shelby’s script is the movie’s only real mystery.
PG-13. At AMC Hoffman Center 22. Contains violence and strong language. 96 minutes.