This peculiar mix of romance and Cold War era thriller tells the story of Katya (Rebecca Ferguson), a spy in Moscow who is tasked by the Americans with getting close to, and prising sensitive information from, idealistic politician Alexander (Sam Reid). The trouble is that she unwittingly falls in love with him, causing problems with her allegiance to her cause and operational handlers.
Meanwhile, decades later, Alexander (now played by Charles Dance) is living an affluent life in New York. His niece Lauren (also played by Ferguson) then starts investigating what happened to her aunt who mysteriously went missing.
The film is written and directed by Shamim Sarif based on her own book. Therein lies the main issue: it feels like a vanity project, where the author has been precious about their material and is reluctant to lose anything, lest it get in the way of the original vision.
Yet, wouldn’t you know it, letting go would have been the infinitely smarter approach. The film feels overcooked and overstuffed, to the point where the characters and various plots strands hardly get room to breathe, much less gratifyingly develop.
It’s told in two distinct timelines, both of which mirror one another in a rather clunky manner. One is a rather shallow portrait of the ‘50s Cold War era – marred by dodgy CGI snow, obvious green-screen and unconvincing sets – while the ‘90s segment plays out at-best like a mediocre late afternoon TV drama.
It’s not wholly without interest as there are some decent performances from a game cast and a sort-of admirable sense of old school melodrama. Even so, there’s simply too much going on and not enough time spent on any one part of it to make it particularly engaging or satisfying.