Survivor (film)

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Survivor poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames McTeigue
Written byPhilip Shelby
Produced by
CinematographyDanny Ruhlmann
Edited byKate Baird
Music byIlan Eshkeri
Millennium Films
Chartoff-Winkler Productions
Distributed byAlchemy (United States)
Lionsgate (United Kingdom)[1]
Release dates
  • May 29, 2015 (2015-05-29) (United States)
  • June 5, 2015 (2015-06-05) (United Kingdom)
Running time
96 minutes
CountriesUnited States
United Kingdom
Budget$20 million[2]
Box office$3,839,100[1]

Survivor is a 2015 British-American action spy thriller film directed by James McTeigue[3] and written by Philip Shelby. The film stars Milla Jovovich, Pierce Brosnan, Robert Forster, Angela Bassett, Roger Rees, Antonia Thomas, James D'Arcy, Frances de la Tour, Genevieve O'Reilly, and Dylan McDermott.[4]

The film was released in cinemas in the United Kingdom on June 5, 2015, and direct-to-video in the United States on June 23, 2015.[5]


During a firefight in the Middle East, American soldier Johnny Talbot is captured by Islamic terrorists and forced to witness the execution of his comrade, Ray.

Kate Abbott is a Diplomatic Security Service agent working for the American Embassy in London, who began working in the government after most of her friends were killed in 9/11. While she is implementing new, more stringent rules for visa applications of potential terrorist suspects, most of her team are killed while at a restaurant for the birthday of their superior, Bill Talbot. Bill is Johnny's father, and is being blackmailed under threat of Johnny's death. He delayed attending the party to return to his desk to delete records of the visas he has approved for terrorists entering the United States. Kate survives the bombing when she leaves the restaurant to get a last-minute present for Bill.

An investigation into the attack reveals that the bomb has traces of chromium, leading her superior at the embassy, Sam Parker, to deduce that the perpetrator was the 'Watchmaker', one of the world's most wanted killers, known for his precision work, who detonated a bomb with similar traces in Paris two years earlier. Nobody knows the Watchmaker's appearance, as he has had lots of plastic surgery over the years. Kate's subsequent attempts to find out the cause of the explosion reveal that Bill was being blackmailed to let certain visa applicants through after Johnny's capture, and the man behind the attack was indeed the Watchmaker. Her efforts uncover a plan to detonate another bomb at Times Square in New York City during the New Year's Eve celebrations.

As she carries out her own investigation, she is attacked by Bill, unintentionally killing him in self-defense. Kate is later considered, through witnesses and footage, the prime suspect for the attacks at the embassy.

Sam Parker, who believes in her innocence, is injured in an attack by the Watchmaker.

Kate is forced to sneak back into the embassy to create false passports for herself to follow the Watchmaker to New York, with continuing support from Sam and her friend Sally, the only two people who still believe in her innocence.

Meanwhile, the Watchmaker uses a Steyr HS .50 cal sniper rifle to fire an incendiary round into a sphere filled with explosive gas atop a vacant block of apartments in Tower Hamlets. The building is devastated. Later, the Watchmaker reveals that he is aware that his client's purpose for the Times Square attack is not terrorism but financial. He intends to bet against the stock market and make millions when the stock market reopens. The Watchmaker demands half the profits, threatening to cancel the attack, and the client agrees.

The Watchmaker leaves for New York. Dr Emil Balan, is motivated to avenge his late wife's death when her visa to the U.S. was delayed and she did not receive emergency medical treatment in time. In New York, he coordinates filling the New Year's Eve ball with explosive gas. The Watchmaker's job is to shoot the sphere and ignite the gas. Balan meets the Watchmaker on top of a high rise a few blocks from Times Square. The Watchmaker kills Balan, removing any connection back to him. Kate deduces the plot and finds the Watchmaker, moments away from triggering the bomb. After a struggle, she manages to throw the Watchmaker off the side of the building. He falls to his death on the stroke of midnight.

Her suspicion about Balan's guilt is vindicated and her name is cleared. She receives a call from Sam, who has recovered from recent injuries, congratulating her.


Regé-Jean Page, Antonia Thomas, Jing Lusi and Sean Teale play Kate’s colleagues in the visa team: Robert Purvell, Naomi Rosenbaum, Joyce Su and Alvin Murdock. Sonya Cassidy appears as Anderson’s right hand, Helen.

Paddy Wallace and Parker Sawyers play Johnny Talbot and Ray, two US soldiers in the film’s opening scene.


The principal photography of the film Survivor began on January 20, 2014 in London.[3][4][6] Shooting took place in London for five weeks before production moved to Sofia, Bulgaria for three weeks.[7] Emma Thompson was cast and appeared in promotional material for the film,[8] but she pulled out at the last minute.[9]

Cinema and home media release[edit]

Alchemy acquired the United States distribution rights to the film on March 20, 2015.[10] The film was given a limited release and a video on demand release in the United States on May 29, 2015.[5] Lionsgate released the film in the United Kingdom on June 5, 2015.[5]

Survivor was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the US on June 23, 2015, and was released in Canada and other countries on July 7, 2015.[11][12]


Survivor received almost uniformly negative reviews from major reviewers. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 8% based on 52 reviews, with an average rating of 3.65/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Borrowing heavily from better films in service of a predictable story, Survivor will struggle to sustain the interest of even the most avid action thriller fans."[13] IGN awarded Survivor 5 out of 10, saying "The film is particularly disappointing as McTeigue also directed V for Vendetta, a much sharper, much more intriguing, much more thought-provoking look at our post-9/11 world."[14] As of September 2015, the film had a score 26 out of 100 from 11 critics on Metacritic, with the highest coming in from Roger Moore at Movie Nation and Peter Sobczynski of Roger Ebert (both at 50 points on a scale of 100).[15][16][17]

The film received rare positive reviews—e.g., from theThe National (Abu Dhabi).[18]


  1. ^ a b "Survivor (2015)". BoxOfficeMojo. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  2. ^ "Review: 'Survivor' Starring Milla Jovovich & Pierce Brosnan". IndieWire.
  3. ^ a b Zargani, Luisa (February 24, 2014). "Milla Jovovich Touches Down in Milan". Retrieved February 24, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Rosser, Michael (January 20, 2014). "James McTeigue's Survivor begins shoot". Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 20, 2014). "'Survivor' Trailer: Milla Jovovich Is Targeted By Pierce Brosnan's Assassin". Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  6. ^ Franklin, Garth (January 21, 2014). "McTeigue's 'Survivor' Begins Filming in UK". Archived from the original on January 21, 2014. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  7. ^ Daniels, Nia (January 21, 2014). "Milla Jovovich in London to shoot Survivor". Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  8. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (October 7, 2013). "Millennium Sets Milla Jovovich, Emma Thompson, Pierce Brosnan, Angela Bassett For 'Survivor' Thriller Pic". Deadline. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  9. ^ "Survivor review – you'll wish you hadn't made it to the end". The Guardian. June 7, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  10. ^ Hipes, Patrick (March 20, 2015). "James McTeigue Thriller 'Survivor' Lands at Alchemy". Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  11. ^ "Survivor". Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  12. ^ "Survivor". Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  13. ^ Rotten Tomatoes staff (2015). "Survivor (2015)", Retrieved January 7, 2023.
  14. ^ Lasser, Josh (2015). "Movie review: Survivor Review", IGN, May 28, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2015. Quote: "Jovovich is generally solid in the role… More hamstrung than Jovovich is Pierce Brosnan… Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, James D'Arcy, and Roger Rees are all similarly constrained."
  15. ^ Metacritic staff (2015). "Survivor, Alchemy, Release Date: May 29, 2015", Metacritic, May 29, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  16. ^ Sobczynski, Peter (2015). "Survivor",, May 29, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2015. Quote: "As you can probably surmise from just that brief plot recap, originality is not exactly one of the strong points of survivor—screenwriter Phillip Shelby has essentially given viewers a mash-up of any number of movies… The best thing about "Survivor" are the performances from Jovovich and Brosnan in the lead roles… Neither particularly good nor particularly bad, "Survivor" is the kind of film that one can safely put on the television while other stuff is going on without worry that important plot points will be missed along the way."
  17. ^ Roger Moore (2015). "Movie Review: “Survivor” is a B-movie thriller that kind of works", Movie Nation, May 27, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  18. ^ Newbould, Chris (2015). "Film review: Brosnan and Jovovich team up for spy action-thriller Survivor", The National, June 3, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2015. Quote: "Survivor is 96 minutes of rip-roaring action, with heavyweight actors managing to paper over some of the plot holes with their performances. Watch without prejudice, and you’ll enjoy it.

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