Antonio Banderas has that special something. Sure he’s a great actor with an incredible range. Yes he’s a natural at drama, comedy, action, you name it. But there’s something about him that always grabs my attention. He’s effortlessly suave and charismatic and it’s hard not to be drawn to his characters, even in smaller movies like his latest, “Code Name Banshee”. But despite his special sauce, Banderas can’t save every movie. Such is the case for this decent yet unremarkable action thriller.
Despite its rather bland title, the Jon Keeyes directed “Code Name Banshee” has its high points. There’s some well-shot action and that above-mentioned Banderas allure is certainly present. But the whole thing is extremely straightforward. There are no twists, no turns, no surprises. The story just plays out exactly as it tells us it will. Even the “big” final act showdown (because we have to have a final act showdown) lacks pizzazz. And the movie dips whenever Banderas is off screen, which is more often than I expected.
Storywise, the main character is Banshee (Jaime King), an assassin who works high-paying contracts with the help of her computer hacker friend and veritable ‘eyes and ears’, Kronos (Aleksander Vayshelboym). She’s your typical movie assassin type – quiet, lethal, and laser-focused on the job at hand. She never asks questions about her targets, “I’m the executioner, not the judge.”
I an a roundabout way we learn that Banshee’s father and his best friend and black ops partner Caleb (Banderas) have been branded traitors by the CIA. Caleb has vanished off the grid. Banshee’s father is believed to be dead, killed by a ruthless mercenary named Anthony Green (Tommy Flanagan).
Banshee and Green have a face-to-face when he beats her to one of her contracts. Green informs her that Caleb has a $10 million bounty on his head and he intends to collect it. Green offers her $1 million if she’ll give up Caleb’s whereabouts. Rather than accept, she blasts through Green’s goons and sets out to warn her former mentor and maybe recruit him to help her kill the man who may have axed her father.
For someone described as a “ghost”, Caleb turns out to be hilariously easy to find. These days he’s a bar owner in New Jersey who lives with his daughter, Hailey (Catherine Davis). With the help of Kronos, Banshee pinpoints Caleb’s location and pays him a surprise visit. After reassuring him she’s not there to kill him, Banshee tells Caleb that Green and his henchman are on their way. After dealing with some old baggage, the two realize that they have a chance to take out their mutual enemy. But it’ll take putting aside their past differences and a lot of bullets.
To no one’s surprise, there is quite a bit of John Wick-inspired gunplay. Some of it is pretty fun with headshots galore, each accompanied by a computer-generated spray of blood. There’s also some pretty good fight choreography, the best involving Banderas. King has a splashy scene or two, particularly in the early moments of the film. But it’s all things we’ve seen before. And the movie’s ultimate inability to maintain its energy makes it a hard one to latch onto. “Code Name Banshee” is out now in select theaters and on VOD.