×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Legacy

A schematic psychological thriller both driven and somewhat overwhelmed by Idris Elba's performance.

With:
With: Idris Elba, Eamonn Walker, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Clarke Peters, Richard Brake, Julian Wadham, Gerald Kyd, Lara Pulver. (English dialogue)

Advertised with the line “One man. One room. One mission,” “Legacy” is heavy on the first two, the mission in question being relegated to flashbacks. The sophomore feature of British-Nigerian writer-helmer Thomas Ikimi (“Limbo”), this tale of an American black-ops soldier unraveling after a harrowing assignment alleviates its physical confinement — conceived to accommodate a tiny budget before headliner Idris Elba signed on — via energetic direction and editing. Still, staginess clings to a very schematic psychological thriller both driven and somewhat overwhelmed by Elba’s showy performance. Released in nine cities Oct. 15, offbeat but middling effort will fare better on ancillary.

Part of a top-secret “Dark Hammer” anti-terrorist unit, Malcolm Gray (Elba) is captured and tortured while staking out an arms dealer in Eastern Europe. He’s now returned, covered with gruesome scars, to his native Brooklyn. There, he holes up in an atmospherically dingy hotel room, dwelling on those recent traumas as well as the high-flying Republican senator brother (Eamonn Walker) he blames for policies that permitted the ethically dubious and violent actions he variously witnessed, executed and suffered. As TV reports inform us, Malcolm’s brother may soon parlay his “war on terror” rhetoric into presidential candidacy.

Malcolm is meant to be hiding out, yet people keep showing up. They include the love his sibling allegedly stole from him (Monique Gabriela Curnen), his former commander (Clarke Peters) and a journalist (Lara Pulver) to whom he promises secrets that could destroy his brother’s career. But before long, we begin to wonder whether these visits are real or paranoid delusions, as Malcolm grows more and more unstable.

It’s easy to see why an actor might be excited by such material, and Elba (“Obsessed,” TV’s “The Wire”), who signed on as executive producer, gives it his all. Maybe too much, in fact. There’s nary a scene in which Malcolm isn’t at full-throttle intensity, whether on the attack, terrified, muttering crazily, in physical extremis, et al. It’s the kind of performance that can reduce everything around it to mere vehicle for acting tour de force, and “Legacy’s” gimmicky scenario doesn’t put up much of a fight. Ikimi’s murky political message seems secondary in importance to his focus on letting this committed but also self-conscious star turn leave no scenery unchewed.

Shot for funding reasons in Scotland, pic is well handled in tech and design departments, with Mark Kilian’s big suspenser score useful in maintaining some sense of danger beyond sheer thespian display.

Popular on Variety

Legacy

Nigeria-U.K.

Production: A Codeblack Entertainment (in U.S.) release presented in association with Kaleidoscope Prods. of a Black Camel Pictures/Legacy Spy production. Produced by Arabella Page Croft, Kieran Parker, Thomas Ikimi. Executive producers, Idris Elba, Amrit Walia. Directed, written by Thomas Ikimi.

Crew: Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Jonathan Harvey; editors, Ikimi, Richard Graham; music, Mark Kilian; production designer, Gordon Rogers; art director, Andy Drummond; costume designer, Harriet Edmonds; sound, Alastair Mason; supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer, Kahl Henderson; sound designer, Giles Lamb; assistant director, Jonathan Farmer; casting, Anna Kennedy. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Oct. 15, 2010. (In Chicago Film Festival.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: With: Idris Elba, Eamonn Walker, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Clarke Peters, Richard Brake, Julian Wadham, Gerald Kyd, Lara Pulver. (English dialogue)

More Film

  • Lady and the Tramp trailer

    How 'Lady and the Tramp' Remake Solved Its 'Siamese Cat Song' Problem

    Janelle Monáe sings two songs, including the classic “He’s a Tramp,” in the live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp,” among the most talked-about of the new offerings on the Disney Plus streaming service. But the biggest challenge for her writing and producing team, Nate “Rocket” Wonder and Roman GianArthur of Wondaland Productions, turned out [...]

  • Netflix Makes Move Into Nordic Film

    Netflix Makes Move Into Nordic Film With Danish, Norwegian, Swedish Projects

    Netflix is moving into original movies in the Nordic region for the first time. Action thriller “Red Dot” out of Sweden, and “Cadaver” from Norway were announced as Netflix Films at the Stockholm Film Festival on Thursday. The streaming giant also announced that it had scooped the global rights to Danish feature film “Shadows in [...]

  • Cairo Film Festival Reboot Moving Into

    Rebooted Cairo Film Festival Shifts Into Higher Gear

    The Cairo Film Festival, which is the grand dame of the Arab world’s cinema shindigs, looks set for a watershed edition, its second headed by producer Mohamed Hefzy whose reboot effort is coming into full swing. Besides the Middle East launch of Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” which is Cairo’s opener, Hefzy and his team have [...]

  • Shia LaBeouf Actors on Actors

    Why Shia LaBeouf Is Only Happy While Acting: 'When I'm Not on a Set, Life Gets Hard'

    Shia LaBeouf (“Honey Boy”) believes that acting is a conduit for love. LaBeouf explained what his profession does for his happiness to Kristen Stewart (“Seberg”) during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” “The most intimate moments of my whole life happened on set,” LaBeouf said. “I don’t know if there’s anything more intimate [...]

  • Renee Zellweger Tom Hanks Variety Actors

    How Tom Hanks and Renée Zellweger Disappeared as Mr. Rogers and Judy Garland

    Tom Hanks (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”) and Renée Zellweger (“Judy”) sat down for a chat for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” For more, click here. During their enduring careers, Tom Hanks and Renée Zellweger have gone back and forth seamlessly between comedies and dramas, played romantic leads and won Academy Awards — she [...]

  • Bob IgerSimon Weisenthal Gala honoring Bob

    Bob Iger Joins MasterClass Roster for Course on Business Strategy and Leadership

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger has signed on to the MasterClass digital education service, offering a course in business strategy and leadership. The course, available as of Thursday, will detail Iger’s view on the importance of taking bold steps and embracing mistakes in business. Iger also promises to dig into “case studies” of some of Disney’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content