A man is tied to a chair. He’s being brutally interrogated. But he’s a man who takes shit from no one. And so—you have to see this—he rises up against his tormenters and in a martial-artsy fury takes them out. And then—you really
have to see this—he goes crashing through a plate glass window, still tied to the chair, and plummets a good long way down to…
Yes, this is a Jason Statham movie. Which is not a bad thing. Statham, unusually among action stars, has a warm, contemplative charm. And as an actual athlete, his furious doings are an inspiration to legions of doughy moviegoers around the world.
No, the regrettable thing about this picture is most of the rest of it, which is undone by a lack of narrative clarity and thus momentum. Statham plays Danny, a retired mercenary living in bucolic tranquility in the Australian outback, tended by his girlfriend (the uncommonly fetching Yvonne Strahovski). One day Danny receives a message from Oman, with plane tickets attached. It seems that a fellow mercenary named Hunter (Robert De Niro)—Danny’s mentor in international mayhem—is being held prisoner, and will be killed unless Danny uses those plane tickets.
Danny flies to Oman, and after a bit of preliminary ass-kicking is told by Hunter’s captor, a dying sheikh (Rodney Afif), that in order to save his old friend’s life, he must track down and terminate four commandos of Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) who once killed several of the sheikh’s sons. Danny reluctantly accepts the assignment, and decamps for Paris to recruit some seasoned help (happily including the ebullient Dominic Purcell).