Agent Game, 2022.
Directed by Grant S. Johnson.
Starring Dermot Mulroney, Adan Canto, Katie Cassidy, Jason Isaacs, Mel Gibson, Barkhad Abdi, Rhys Coiro, Annie Ilonzeh, and Matt Riedy.
A CIA officer finds himself the target of a rendition operation after being scapegoated for the death of an interrogation subject.
The first thing director Grant S. Johnson (using a script from writers Tyler W. Konney and Mike Langer) does with Agent Game is disorienting any sense of time by starting at the end of the story, flashing back five weeks earlier, then three weeks earlier, juggling those stories to confusion. Each of those portions contains different teams working together to accomplish an objective.
Harris and Bill (Dermot Mulroney and Jason Isaacs) are CIA operators working alongside Visser (Annie Ilonzeh), who answers to Mel Gibson’s Olsen at the top of the chain of command. The operatives are tasked with putting on a good cop/bad cop routine (the men are rough, whereas Visser attempts to earn trust) at a black site interrogating Omar (Barkhad Abdi), coming into a sizable amount of money working with an organization that he claims is for charity. It turns out that the group is connected to terrorist operations unbeknownst to Omar, although he may still have helpful information. These three CIA operatives also might have ulterior motives, making for a series of mind games among manipulating the prisoner.
Elsewhere, a ragtag group of private contractors is tasked with kidnapping Harris, which doesn’t bring forth as many questions as one would think. The games are pretty easy to see for as tricky and unpredictable Agent Game tries to be. Nevertheless, some military personalities are mildly amusing with vastly different behavior as they try to function as a cohesive unit. Kavinski (Adan Canto) is the closest one to a leader and also happens to be receiving secret messages regarding what to do next, Miller (Katie Cassidy) is the calm and collected token female capable of diffusing whatever verbal arguments the men start, and Reese (Rhys Coiro) is the jokester of the bunch.
Soon, they find themselves on a plane ready to deliver an unconscious Harris somewhere, but just as quickly, they realize something is off about the whole ordeal. As Agent Game rotates timelines, it is somehow both messy and predictable. There’s no question where any of this is going based on the opening scene alone, but the motivations of these characters and optics of this mission are muddled and frankly not worth bothering to break down.
Inevitably, one timeline catches up to the other as most of the answers are revealed, thrusting these characters into an extended action sequence of frantic shootouts and explosions. The actors are trying to give these characters a sense of distinction, and some of them are intermittently entertaining to watch, but it’s mostly a shoulder-shrug of forgettable chaos. There are more incompetent works in crafting bombastic set pieces, but Agent Game is equally frustrating for another reason entirely: it sequel-baits, assuming people will want more of this generic sludge.
Agent Game is tolerable, and the interrogation segments are acceptable enough, coasting off decent work from Dermot Mulroney and Jason Isaacs, but the material here is stretched thin for a non-ending and promises of more to come. What a cruel game to play on an audience.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com