2 Apr 2022
Aidan O' Sullivan, Bobby Calloway, Nigel Brennan
Kian (Brennan) is on a job. He is following a woman through the back roads of Donegal to a remote meeting point by some picturesque waterfalls. He uses a drone to capture footage of her as she meets her lover and then calls his employer to relay the details. This shady figure stays hidden in the shadows of a plush boardroom and we never get to see his face, but we know that he is not a nice man. Surprisingly, Kian lies about what he has found out and lets the woman slip away scot-free – he may be operating on the wrong side of the law but it seems he does still have a conscience.
Fast forward to Kian's next job briefing and there are two new shady characters trying to employ his services. Mr Hidell (Parle) and Mr Vadik (Sharkey) yet again want a young woman found and are willing to pay handsomely for it. So Kian is off to Florence to track this woman down and we in turn get to enjoy some HD tourist footage of this historic city. It's easy enough for Kian to locate this woman, Camelia (Shahidi) as she's staying in the same hotel he was pointed to by his employers. After a quick game of cat and mouse and some nice base espionage tactics, the two meet and discuss how to work over and escape Hidell and Vadik. Now, Kian has form.
Yet again things don't pan out as expected and Camelia ends up screwing Kian over and absconding with his money. It seems she was a plant all along and now the conman has been conned. Such is the game.
Up to this point Gerard Lough's film, Spears has been an enjoyable ride. It has been well shot and well put together with some nice editing building the scenes and moving the story along. The acting has been basic but natural and nothing seems out of place; all in all Spears lookslike it's going to be a decent espionage thriller. Then suddenly it changes tack.
Now we're following Cormac (O' Sullivan) who is in London to buy some guns. He is given the runaround before getting to meet his contact, who turns out to be none other than Mr Vadik. There's some nonsense with a tete-a-tete and pointless obfuscation before, you guessed it, the good old double-cross. This section of the film is nowhere near as accomplished as the first and is just confusing really, with no real explanation as to what's going on and a much poorer attention to craft.
Then suddenly we're in Berlin. So now there's a writer by the name of Jeff (Calloway) and he's in Berlin to meet a woman who's cheating on her husband. Jeff has a sideline in conning women out of their money through catfishing e-mails and it seems he's quite proficient at it. For some bizarre reason he decides to open up to his new lover about this and trusts her to hold the money he's emptied from these poor, lonely marks' bank accounts. It kind of defies belief that this is now where we're at and I'm sure you've already figured out what happens next. Not that it's easy to follow this storyline at all, with the focus jumping about and and certain background characterisation not being revealed until the viewer is already exasperated by what they're trying to follow on screen.
The thing is, that by now we are still less than half way through, there's still over an hour of storyline left to fill, and it's all along the same lines as what's come before. The production value never regains the positive look and feel at the start of the film and things start to feel perfunctory after a while. The acting, too, never seems to lift from being serviceable and strangely every performance seems to be devoid of any emotion. For the second half of the film it feels like everyone is just going through the motions, as is the viewer, just trying to get to the end.
From what started off as a decent idea, handled with some care and attention, Spears loses its way somewhat. It ends up feeling overlong and over-complicated with nothing standing out to lift it from being a subpar thriller, apart from maybe the excellent electrobeat score from Sigrid Anita Haugen. There are, however, better ways to spend a couple of hours of your time.