February 16, 2018 ExPatriot (Movie Review)
With a title like ExPatriot, it sounds like viewers could be in for a cheesy Action flick. In fact, it certainly looks that way from the official poster. Due out on DVD Tuesday, February 20, 2018, Monarch Home Entertainment presents a tale of clandestine operations, behind-the-scenes deals, and betrayal with ExPatriot.
Directed and co-written by Conor Allyn (Java Heat 2013, Forsaken 2017), along with his brother Jake Allyn (Forsaken 2017), the title is a pun, as former CIA analyst Riley Connors (Valene Kane: Rogue One 2016. The Fall series) is forced out of the US after she blew the whistle on the government. So, she became an ex-patriot on finding out what the US was doing, and in return they made her an expatriate. Not a bad turn of phrase.
Two years later, her former CIA partner Bill Donovan (Charlie Weber: Vampires Suck 2010, Burn Notice series) finds her and gives her an offer; join an international task force to confiscate millions of dollars from corrupt bankers Fernando (Mario Espitia: La Fan series, Rafael Orozco, El Idolo series) and Carlito Ruiz (Andres Ogilvie Browne: La Blanca Ruta series, Tres Caines series), and she will be free to return home. No fuss, no muss. She accepts it, but will she regret her decision?
However, ExPatriot does not harken back to the days of Schwarzenegger or Van Damme. It is more like Bourne on a budget. Certain scenes, particularly in the CIA headquarters or the non-copyright-infringing generic news channel setup, show where the money was getting tight. It is not the cheapest-looking set or design in the world, but it is not breaking the bank either. It gets better once it shifts to location shots, with some rather nice views of Bogota. They even repeat a neat shot of one lit-up skyscraper for two transition shots.
Do not be fooled by the plot’s serious implications though. There may be no snappy one-liners or streams of machine gun fire, but there is more Gruyere than gravitas here. One character, Pascal (Edgar Vittorino: Tierra de Cantores series, La Luz de Mis Ojos series) compares Connors’ backstory to that of a telenovela, and it is an apt comparison. Between the cityscape transitions, the dabs of Spanish dialogue, and the increasingly overwrought plot, the film feels like it could appear on Telemundo’s schedules. For example, the money plot is a MacGuffin for a subplot over whether Connors will fall for her old partner, or for Fernando as she learns more about him. Even the ultimate villain is revealed via a sudden 180° heel turn out of nowhere.
There are a few things keeping it from being the feature-length equivalent of Woman of Steel though. Telemundo’s tagline is “Feel the Passion,” but ExPatriot does not have much of that. It tries to make things steamier between Connors and Donovan, but Kane and Weber’s chemistry is adequate at best. There is more going on between Kane and Espitia, as she earns his trust and affection while working undercover. Maybe they have a better on-screen rapport, or maybe they have less cheesy lines to deliver to each other.
Browne delivers a good, emotional performance in an otherwise largely muted film too. His Carlito is sceptical and heavy-handed, and impatient with Fernando’s calm, more trusting character. It adds a touch of conflict to the duo, though it does not get as much focus. It is a shame, as it manages to show more promise than the direction Connors’ story takes.
So, ExPatriot is uneven overall. It gets over its budget once it reaches Bogota and manages to stay looking fine from there. Performances are fine, though with notable lowlights and highlights. The story starts off restrained, but quickly enters telenovela territory. The dialogue is cheesy, plot points and character shifts come in suddenly. Yet, it takes itself too seriously to go over the top. Those looking for more serious action films would be better off sticking with the Bourne series.
Those looking for romance may prefer 2017’s A United Kingdom. For those who prefer some Lancashire cheese with their loving? Stick with Telemundo. ExPatriot will not do enough on its own to scratch those itches. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives this film 2.5 out of 5 stars.