Helmer Tate Taylor reunites with Jessica Chastain after 2011s The Help (now not recommended viewing) in the regrettable and very forgettable Ava.
The solid, reliable actress may exude some actorly prowess in a role of an elite assassin (once an army recruit with an honorable discharge after rebelling from her gifted scholarly ways). But, the way it’s stitched together from visceral exchanges to domesticity is something that is closer to films like Peppermint or Red Sparrow rather than Salt or even Atomic Blonde for that matter.
Nonetheless, an increasingly absurd, by-the-numbers narrative lets Chastain’s character (initially meant to be named Eve) try to work out personal issues in her native Beantown area after a botched mission abroad at a German embassy. An earlier encounter will a businessman (loan Gruffudd) begins to show the extent of her capabilities.
Thus, a past of estrangement and alcoholism (eight years is mentioned) is inevitable as well as trouble from the boss, Simon (Colin Farrell), or her surrogate father handler, Duke (John Malkovich). Of some type of nebulous black-ops organization.
Dysfunctionaliry includes a recovering, if miserable mother (Geena Davis) and a sister (Jess Weixler) with an indebted boyfriend (Common) who happened to be previously in a relationship with the protagonist before she “fled”.
A couple of fierce battles not of the weapon variety display some of the effort put into stunts and choreography that make up what is essentially a B-movie with missed opportunities given the talent on hand. Farrell might be more watchable to some for his appearance rather than his chemistry with Chastain (a producer here) who relishes the physical nature of a character who has a tendency to buck authority.
While it’s nice to see Davis’ Bobbi having a different tussie with Ava it’s hard to find much excitement in what often seems like the debut of a new small-screen series. Suffice to say, this kind of thriller isn’t of the mind of Robert Ludlum as good as Chastain) perhaps channeling a little of her Zero Dark Thirty intensity) can make it. When she isn’t gazing long at hotel minibars.