At first glance, Antonio Banderas’ latest film, Security, looks like Die Hard in a Mall. That’s not the worse premise since there were only so many locations John McClane could explore. The film actually compares better to another member of The Expendables with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand.
Both feature grizzled, emotionally battered heroes trying to protect innocents from a small scale invasion. Neither is a perfect action movie, but they’re solid entertainment for the genre.
Banderas stars as Eddie Deacon, a former solider who takes a dead end job as a mall security guard to support his family. Tony Mosher and John Sullivan’s script tease the possibility that Eddie isn’t fully right in the head. Maybe there’s some darkness that Eddie has struggled to bury down deep and waiting the right match to ignite.
Providing said explosion is Charlie (Ben Kingsley, Iron Man 3) and his elite killer death squad. They’re gunning for Jamie, an 11-year-old witness (Katherine de la Rocha) whose testimony could make life difficult for Charlie’s associates. Jamie manages to make it to the mall, but Eddie doesn’t exactly have a crack team to hold Charlie off for long.
But at least his fellow guards quickly understand the severity of their situation. Liam McIntyre (The Flash) plays Vance, the excitable head of security, who smartly doesn’t take his job too seriously. In most films, Vance would be the obnoxiously arrogant antagonist Eddie has to deal with along with the bad guys. Here, he’s the likable, earnest superior who knows when he’s in over his head. Rounding out the crew are Johnny (Jiro Wang), sleep deprived Ruby (Gabriella Wright) and reserved Mason (Chad Lindberg, The Fast and the Furious).
The film’s earlier light tone almost makes the casualty-filled second half surprising. At best it seemed one or at most characters wouldn’t survive, but the death toll is much more extensive. I’m not sure if that’s a credit to the screenwriters for making a realistic script or the cast for establishing likable characters.
Director Alain Desrochers largely takes a realistic approach with the action. Given the nature of the film, Desrochers probably could have thrown in a bit more absurdity and over the top action. Even the more logic-defying moments like an ATV ride through the mall come off somewhat restrained.
Considering the action playhouse potential of a shopping mall, Desrochers doesn’t embrace the setting enough. The mall rarely feels all that big with little depth in the mostly gated stores. It’s hard to fully buy into the illusion of the action occurring in a mall just from the layout. Compare this to Dawn of the Dead, which made ample use of an mall setting.
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Banderas doesn’t have a great action hero role. He’s not doing superhuman stunts and impossibly defying the odds as a one man army. But that’s kind of the point in these types of action movies. It’s somewhat weird to say, but the realism hurts Security from reaching a high cheese level of entertainment. Kingsley is laid back for most of the film and doesn’t reach that next gear to be a particularly memorable villain.
Security is one of those action films that just needed another dose of insanity to really impress. It’s serviceable enough to warrant a watch, but could have been better with a tad more mayhem and fun.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Millennium Films