Black Site

Directed by: Sophia Banks
Distributed by: Redbox Entertainment & Vertical Entertainment

I didn’t expect greatness from the action movie “Black Site,” but I also didn’t expect a movie so decidedly lazy and hackneyed. Written by Jinder Ho and directed by Sophia Banks, nearly every aspect of this “Zero Dark Thirty” imitation falls flat.

Michelle Monaghan plays Abby, a grieving CIA agent out to find those responsible for the Middle East hospital bombing that took the life of her husband and daughter. When an infamously cold-blooded suspect known as “Hatchet”, played by Jason Clark, arrives at the underground detainee center where she’s based (a windowless, cheaply designed set of concrete walls and bogus computer equipment, all rather boring to look at), Abby hopes she’s on the brink of finding answers. But Hatchet breaks loose within the facility, and Abby risks losing her life and the best chance of avenging her family.  

If there’s anyone expending real effort in “Black Site,” it’s Monaghan; it’s a shame that the script fails her at every turn. Jason Clarke’s performance is a different story. As Abby’s foe, his lack of dialogue and emotionless body language doesn’t suggest quiet menace, it speaks of an actor who clearly wishes he was doing something else. Hatchet isn’t remotely intimidating as a bad guy, and neither is Jai Courtney as a muscled and merciless private contractor under Abby’s command.

The action itself is unimpressive, and the plot mechanics, betrayals, double-crosses, and twists included, are just too timeworn to have any impact. Where space-constrained fights and shoots outs could use some enlivening through camerawork, the film’s visual style remains bland. Next time Monaghan devotes herself to working up such a sweat, hopefully the movie around her will be equally committed.

“Black Site” Trailer

Michael Clawson is a member of the Seattle Film Critic Society you can follow his passion for film on Letterboxd.

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