Today: July 23, 2024

Legacy: Black Ops

The psychological ramifications of war make for engaging and
thought-provoking viewing when done properly (Born On The Fourth Of
July, The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now all feature characters with
PTSD symptoms). Legacy attempts to get into the mind of a combat veteran
who has done unspeakable things but while the premise is interesting,
it falls short in delivering a satisfying cinema experience.

Idris Elba stars as Malcolm Gray, a decorated soldier part of
an undercover team codenamed Dark Hammer, who specialise in pre-emptive
strikes against civilian targets, all in the name of freedom, democracy
and other such ironic ideals. After finally tracking down a Ukrainian
with a stockpile of sarin gas, the operation goes badly wrong resulting
in his squad’s capture and his horrific torture.

Back in the USA, he hides away in a rundown motel room convinced that
the government will soon be coming for him because of his botched cover
and his connection to his brother, the highly respected Senator Darnell
Gray who covertly founded Dark Hammer, and is also expected to enter
the forthcoming presidential race.

Holed up in his dingy motel, he’s visited by a journalist, a former
lover, his comrades, and an assassin disguised as a pizza delivery man
as he struggles with what’s real and what’s in his head.

Idris Elba is a brilliant actor. His presence as Stringer Bell in
The Wire is one that will be long remembered, but sadly, his film career
so far has been less than spectacular with a string of one-note
performances in movies like Takers and The Losers.

Legacy isn’t going to do any favours for his CV. His performance is
admirable, staring into the middle distance; twitchy at every little
movement, it’s believable and unnerving. But he can’t carry everything
and for a film that relies heavily on dialogue and takes place almost
exclusively in one room, it’s terribly written (sample: “a conscience
will drop you faster than any bullet”).

The film hinges on the blurring of reality and fiction. Are these
people real or figments of his imagination? But it’s so obvious that
they can’t be real from the outset that when Legacy pulls its big
reveal: that everything has been in his mind all along, it’s no
revelation at all. It’s like unwrapping a bottle of wine – you might
not know exactly what it is, but you can see the shape of it a mile away
and you’d have to be pretty slow on the uptake to be surprised when the
wrapping’s off.

While Elba’s performance as a solider with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is convincing and at times disturbing, Legacy’s
reliance on tired visual devices to show his unravelling mind (head
butting a mirror to leave a fractured reflection, a constantly ringing
telephone) are wearing, and it’s crippled by its dialogue which lends no
credibility to its supporting cast.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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