Mitch Rapp and his girlfriend are on vacation in Basque, Spain, when a radical Islamist jihadist cell lands on the beach and begins to attack the civilians with assault rifles. Amid the carnage, Rapp frantically attempts to find his girlfriend, but is unable to prevent her death at the hands of the terrorists.
Eighteen months later, Rapp, now consumed by his desire for vengeance, frequents an internet message board where the terrorist responsible for his girlfriend’s murder quizzes Rapp on aspects of Islam and jihad. Having secured an invitation to meet him face to face, Rapp prepares to take his vengeance on the man responsible for his girlfriend’s death, but before he can kill the terrorist, the cell is suddenly ambushed by U.S. Special Forces. Upset over the perception that he has been denied his vengeance, Rapp repeatedly stabs the terrorist he was after before being dragged out by the U.S. forces. In a CIA safe house Rapp undergoes 30 days of debriefing before being offered a chance by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy to join a black operations unit codenamed Orion. Its head, Stan Hurley, is a former U.S. Navy SEAL and a Cold War veteran who trains Rapp and the other potential recruits in asymmetrical warfare.
Elsewhere, word comes down through intelligence channels that weapons grade nuclear material has gone missing from a decommissioned Russian nuclear facility. The material in question appears to be heading to Iranian hardliners, who are upset with the Iranian government’s recent nuclear deal with the U.S. While verifying the sale of the nuclear material in Poland the plutonium is intercepted by a third party, who eliminates the sellers before vanishing into the crowd. In Virginia, Hurley sees news reports about the incident in Poland and tentatively ID’s the perpetrator as a former Navy SEAL and Orion operative believed to have been killed in action and now going by the codename “Ghost”. Hurley’s team is sent into Turkey to intercept the buyer “Ghost” is working for.
In Istanbul, Hurley’s team is made, and the attempted intercept of the trigger device fails. Rapp pursues the buyer to his apartment, and after a protracted fight kills the man and retrieves his laptop. The information leads the team to Rome, where Orion operatives ID a nuclear physicist needed to craft the nuclear material into a functional nuclear weapon. While in Rome, Rapp’s female companion Annika accidentally lets the name “Ghost” slip despite the fact that Rapp had not given her that name, leading Rapp to correctly ID the woman as a foreign intelligence agent. After a confrontation and her subsequent capture, she explains that she is working for the mainstream Iranian faction which is attempting to stop the hardliners from acquiring nuclear material, which Iran believes is to be used against Israel to start a war. During a meeting between Hurley and an Iranian contact to discuss Annika and the nuclear material, who happens to be Annika’s uncle, Hurley is ambushed by “Ghost”, who kills Hurley’s contact and captures Hurley.
At the CIA safe house in Rome, Annika is being moved under guard by two Mossad agents when Rapp intercepts the car and frees her. Working together, both locate the subterranean headquarters “Ghost” is using to build the nuclear device. After infiltrating the tunnels, Rapp locates and frees a badly injured Hurley, however Annika is captured by “Ghost” and subsequently killed before “Ghost” escapes onto a boat with the nuke. Based on an earlier conversation, Hurley deduces that “Ghost” intends to make a kamikaze attack against the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet. Rapp chases after “Ghost’s” boat, while the Sixth Fleet, alerted to the impending nuclear attack through CIA channels, assumes battle formation and nuclear attack protocol.
Aboard “Ghost’s” boat, Rapp and “Ghost” engage in hand-to-hand combat for control of the boat and the nuclear weapon. After a grueling fight, Rapp gains the upper hand and kills “Ghost” with a knife attack to the throat. Rapp attempts to divert the boat away from the Sixth Fleet to shield the ships from the blast, however after a conversation with Hurley, he instead jettisons the nuclear weapon into the sea before escaping the boat aboard a U.S. Navy helicopter. Seconds later the device detonates, creating a massive sink hole and subsequent tidal wave that inundates the Sixth Fleet vessels, however the underwater detonation prevents the heat of the blast from reaching the ships. Having successfully ridden out the blast and shockwaves, the Sixth Fleet ships initiate nuclear decontamination procedures.
In the aftermath of the blast, Hurley is returned to the U.S. to undergo treatment for his injuries. While watching news reports that indicate that the Iranian hardliners will win the presidential election, Hurley observes that Rapp is on vacation. In Dubai, the hardliner candidate and his escorts enter an elevator in which Rapp is already present, and as the doors close, Rapp is observed smiling.
In My Humble Opinion: Michael Keaton should certainly walk away with the Oscar for Best Actor; if not based solely on his performance in Birdman, but for the years of work he has put into his career and the memorable roles he has given us. I know, I know, it’s not about how much work an individual has done or how many projects he/she has completed; it’s about the performance he/she is nominated for that particular year…or at least that’s what some people will theorize. Should I bring up Peter Jackson’s Best Director snubs for LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, but finally winning for The Return of the King? Or maybe George Clooney being snubbed for Best Director for Good Night and Good Luck, but the Academy not wanting him to leave empty-handed so they gave him Best Supporting Actor for Syriana, robbing Paul Giamatti, William Hurt, and Jake Gyllenhaal who I feel gave better performances.
Anyway, back to Michael Keaton and his nomination for Birdman. Let’s take a look at everyone that’s nominated for Best Actor to gain some perspective. First you have good ole Beetlejuice himself Michael Keaton, who has been entertaining audiences for the last 40 years. The next actor who has a good chance of walking away with the statue is Eddie Redmayne for his role in The Theory of Everything. This young lad has been in the game for 23 years (I know, I was surprised he’s been acting that long too). Next is Benedict Cumberbatch who is nominated for his role in The Imitation Game. Benedict has been acting for about 15 years and will surely have many more nominations down the road. Bradley Cooper makes history by being one of a handful of actors receiving an Oscar nomination three years in a row, not bad for someone that’s been acting for 16 years. This year he is nominated for his role in American Sniper. Lastly we have Steve Carell…yes you read that right. The funny man who has been acting for 29 years received a nomination for his serious performance in Foxcatcher.
Every actor listed above is obviously talented, and will surely continue to receive accolades and recognition for their performances in the years to come. I just feel that with Mr. Keaton’s extensive career in acting and his strong performance in Birdman that maybe he deserves a little more recognition this year, in the form of an Oscar. Maybe some of the performances by other actors listed above were better, like I said, this is my opinion. It’s always a tricky thing when you try to decide who the “frontrunner” is and who may be that dark horse that comes from behind and takes home the trophy…right Giamatti, Hurt, and Gyllenhaal? Surely we all remember when Cuba Gooding Jr. won for Jerry Maguire. He beat out Edward Norton for his role in Primal Fear which in my opinion was a gross oversight…Norton should have clearly walked away with a statue that night.
Here’s hoping the powers that be will recognize an actor that’s been in the game for over half his life and has given us some memorable performances. The list could go on and on but to name a few: Beetlejuice, Jack Butler in Mr. Mom, Carter Hayes in Pacific Heights, Robert Jones in My Life, Douglass Kinney in Multiplicity, Bruce Wayne in Batman, and now Riggan Thompson in Birdman. Here’s hoping the powers that be will honor this seasoned performer and that Michael Keaton can soon add “Oscar Winner” to his list of achievements!