Ironically, I didn’t give a lot of thought to Unthinkable when I decided to rent it on DVD. It had a pretty good cast but the brief plot summary that I read made it seem like it might be passable entertainment, at best. A fun Jack Ryan knock-off, perhaps. How wrong I was.
Mind you, during the opening few scenes, Unthinkable doesn’t do anything to really help you figure out just what a different beast it is. It’s the movie equivalent of a wolf in sheep’s clothing and that clothing comes in the standard terrorist striking against America played by the great Michael Sheen. He sends a video to some official type folks announcing that he has three nuclear weapons armed and timed to detonate in three different locations in America. Carrie-Anne Moss plays a woman who heads up the typical anti-terrorist team familiar to viewers of 24 and other American cop shows. She gets involved in the whole affair when her team mistakenly try to capture a mysterious character played by Samuel L. Jackson. Before you can say “need to know basis”, Moss and her team are taken along for a ride to deal with a situation that’s strictly . . . . . . . . on a need to know basis. Samuel L. Jackson also ends up alongside them and it turns out that he may know more than they do. If they think that they’re needed to search for a terrorist at large then they’re very much mistaken. The terrorist has been caught and it just remains to be seen how far things need to be taken to make him crack and give up the nuclear bombs.
Director Gregor Jordan hits all of the notes that you’d expect from this type of movie. You get the information, the different hierarchies involved, the feeling that being an agent involved in the business at hand is cool and thrilling. Then the script by Peter Woodward pulls the rug from under your feet, admirably so, and Jordan makes the transition natural and seamless.
Thankfully, the cast are all very much up to the task, especially those given the more challenging toles. Carrie-Anne Moss is excellent in a role that could have easily been the weak link in the movie, she’s someone who wants results but doesn’t know just how the situation is about to spiral out of control around her. As she tries to argue for some sense and decency she could easily seem too whiny to be in her position but she doesn’t. Instead, she just seems like a decent human being. Michael Sheen starts the movie as if he’s going to be every other over the top terrorist that you’ve ever seen but then his character develops and the actor gives his usual level of commitment. Last, but by no means least, we have Samuel L. Jackson in one of the more interesting roles that he’s had in a long time. Is he good or bad? That’s up to the viewer to decide.
Genuinely thought-provoking once the real plot develops, and featuring great support from the likes of Stephen Root, Brandon Routh, Martin Donovan and Michael Rose, Unthinkable is a little film that you may not have heard of until now but I recommend you give it a watch some time if you are in the mood for a perfectly paced, interesting thriller that looks at what prices can be paid in “the war on terror”.
DIRECTOR: GREGOR JORDAN
WRITER: PETER WOODWARD
STARS: SAMUEL L. JACKSON, CARRIE-ANNE MOSS, MICHAEL SHEEN, STEPHEN ROOT, BRANDON ROUTH, MARTIN DONOVAN, MICHAEL ROSE
RUNTIME: 97 MINS APPROX