Monday, May 02, 2022

Black Site, on Redbox

Peace must be breaking out if Jordan is okay with the presence of a Mossad agent assigned to a Five Eyes black site hidden in the kingdom’s desert. Of course, it is not like Jordan has a lot of civil liberties to hinder its operations (Freedom House gives it a 34 out of 100, ranking it “Not Free”), but of course, we’re the bad guys in Sophia Banks’ Black Site, which releases tomorrow via Redbox.

When terrorists blew up a hospital in Ankara, they also killed the husband and daughter of Abby Trent, a CIA analyst. Why would a high-level analyst be doing in-country station work you might wonder? Well, don’t, because one year later she will be attached to the black site responsible for interrogating persons-of-interest, with respects to the bombing. Okay, some think it is a bad idea to have her on the case, but there she is.

Unfortunately, Trent is due to be shipped out soon, but right before she leaves, “The Hatchet” arrives. Supposedly, he was the terrorist mastermind behind the bombing that Trent now suspects was a drone strike. He also inconveniently let himself get captured, so he could wipe out Trent’s team and their incarcerated assets. The Hatchet seems to have inside help, but at least Trent can rely on Uli Wasserman from the Mossad (whereas not so much cocky American contractor Raymond Miller).

Jinder Ho and John Collee’s screenplay explicitly argues the CIA is more dangerous than international terrorists. Yet, it is produced to serve as an old school, bullets-flying VOD action movie, that even emblazons Old Glory across its on-sheet. The question remains, who is the intended audience expected to be entertained this film?

By far, the most interesting thing about the film is the character of Wasserman and Phoenix Raei’s portrayal of him. In this murky world, the Mossad guy is the moderate pragmatist (which could very well be true in the real world as well). On the flip side, Jason Clarke looks visibly bored going through the motions as The Hatchet, who must be the world’s most sullen and depressed terrorist ever.

Similarly, Jai Courtenay spewing anti-authority attitude as Miller makes no sense in this context. Anyone in a sensitive post like this would get bounced real fast for challenging the chain of command.

The script also has a further glaring problem. It is blatantly obvious who is helping Hatchet, but Trent does not figure it out until more damage is done. Look, is the CIA filled with idiots or evil geniuses? Pick one and stick with it.

The truth is a large portion the market for VOD action movies are most likely still favorably disposed towards the CIA. We know there are 137 stars on the Langley Memorial Wall signifying fallen officers. They deserve better than this film. Not recommended,
Black Site releases tomorrow (5/3) on VOD and in Redbox kiosks.