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Stars: Mark Walhberg, Kate Mara, Danny Glover, Michael Pena, Ned Beatty, Rhona Mitra, Elias Koteas

Director: Antoine Fuqua

There are echoes of the Bourne franchise in this cunningly-crafted mainstream entertainment: a lone-wolf, sureshot hero, Bob Lee Swagger (muscularly played by Wahlberg), is isolated by a conspiracy that sets him up as the fall guy in an assassination. (Wouldn't the authorities think an archbishop, shot through the head, was the actual target, even if he were standing next to the US president? No matter: the plot's moved on rapidly before you've thought about it).

There's a girl (Mara), natch, a sidekick, of course, and any number of smirking villains in high places, led by, of all people, the usually righteous Glover. Swagger is shot, but escapes, and is aided by the girl and an FBI man (Pena), who smells a heavy duty rat. 'We've given Swagger a new war,' grates Glover. 'He's found a new spotter. This is about to get worse.'

The rest is easy: get the hero's shirt off; get the heroine down to her scanties; throw in lots of explosions and one-shot kills. 'I don't think you understand,' rasps Wahlberg. 'These people killed my dog.'

Mara's tortured and her face smashed in, but she emerges without a scratch, while Wahlberg's final snowy disguise looks like something out of the all-male Swan Lake. Embarrassing? You bet. And yet the whole thing is full of action and excitement, and some absolutely sparkling colour photography. It's high-class tosh, with Wahlberg a granite hero and the villains hamming it up something rotten.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by De Luxe.
126 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 06 Apr 2007