This film felt rather paper-thin. We barely get any explanation for the background information concerning the program that brainwashed Jesse Eisenberg’s character of Mike Howell and we’re given no explanation why Kristen Stewart’s character of Phoebe encouraged Mike to leave the State of West Virginia in the beginning when it was apparently a guaranteed death sentence from the federal government of the US. That didn’t really make any sense.
Apart from all that, the acting by the main cast was great. I can see that most – if not all – of the hate that Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg get as actors is due to shitty scripts or being typecast due to the films that they’re notorious for doing. The Twilight Series obviously being a worse issue to get out of the shadow of for Kristen Stewart than Jesse Eisenberg’s shitty scripts from the Social Network to Batman Vs. Superman. It was nice to see them to show greater range and expressiveness from what on the surface seems more dynamic characters. Nevertheless, this film just feels like generic male power fantasy made to look “cool” and “hip” since the stoner boyfriend is secretly a CIA-trained killing machine and the girlfriend character is revealed to have dropped her entire life just to rehabilitate and support him. What else am I suppose to call this but barebones Male Power Fantasy? I don’t even think they tried to hide it much at all. In fact, plot inconsistencies with how the real world CIA operates – which the film itself brings up – is just ignored like the fact the CIA isn’t allowed to operate on US soil. This could have easily been resolved if they made it some secret FBI organization, but they didn’t and thus the lead antagonist of this film being able to call in FEMA and the US Military to conduct strikes on US soil against a discharged civilian who worked for the CIA didn’t really make any sense. How would that even be approved as an operation? Why on earth would the CIA operate in West Virginia and go so far as to label one of their own deputy directors as a rogue terrorist without sufficient evidence and on US soil too? Perhaps I’m simply out of my depth, but it didn’t make any sense to me.
The Male Power Fantasy aspect continues to the end with the evil CIA official taking Phoebe (Kristin Stewart’s character) hostage just so Jesse Eisenberg’s character can go save her. The final fight scene with Mike fighting in a store makes me wonder why he kept knocking the guns off his enemies but not picking them up to use them until getting shot in the head. The whole scene seemed incredibly forced and asinine for that reason. Throughout the entire scene, I was wondering why he didn’t just grab a gun off his enemies or grab one that he had knocked off like on one of the shelves before proceeding forward. He, rather predictably, gets both shot and stabbed and the headshot only grazing him made me lose all suspension of disbelief for the movie. Finally, after Kristen Stewart’s character knocked out the evil CIA agent and got back to Mike, why did Phoebe and Mike think that they could just go home after killing so many secret CIA agents and destroying so much private property? Like, what? That was so stupid.
Anyway, the best parts of this film are Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg getting to show they have incredibly range and can play dynamic characters really well. The worst part of this film is the paper-thin plot being wasted on great acting talent from the two leads, to Walton Goggins, and the rest of the cast of characters. This film is forgettable and bad. 1.5 / 5 rating.