Code Name Banshee (2022) Review: Highly Confusing Revenge Thriller
A Banshee is a wailing spirit that warns of death, or so the legend says. It kind of serves well to have this name as the titular character, as her presence supposedly guarantees doom for the other side. Based on the name (Code Name Banshee), audiences will head to watch this Antonio Banderas, Jaime King, and Tommy Flanagan starrer expecting an agent, something gone wrong, and the arrival of someone from the past that leads to a bitter conflict. Code Name Banshee delivers just that.
The film focuses on, well, of course, Banshee (don’t call her that though). She has become a contract killer and crosses paths with an old rival who wants her to hand over her ex-mentor, Caleb (Antonio Banderas).
It can be seen as an established template, or perhaps the curse of having seen so many films that it becomes tough to be surprised by a director. Jon Keeyes didn’t really try though and seemed to have given up, except for one instance that proved surprising. Apart from the director, even the writer seemed to have lost interest. While the action scenes are crisp and well done, the periods of lull leave much to be desired.
Writer Matthew Rogers forgot to mention or include a montage of where/how Banshee got trained. Unless she was already an agent who got assigned to Caleb. However, even that seems unlikely after watching the introduction and certain flashbacks.
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Another drawback of the writing unit is the forced dialogues of the past between two people who have just met and are standing by for battle. It seems bizarre that they would have casual conversations when faced with an imminent attack by a large group. Such a thing is common in war movies, but these feature soldiers who have been with each other for months.
We even fail to see how Banshee has an issue with Anthony Greene, unless she is only in this to protect Caleb. But it’s quite clear that she has some personal hatred towards Tommy Flanagan’s character and vice versa.
However, credit where credit is due. The fights are entertaining and have believable choreography. I liked the fact that the makers remembered that bullets go through wood. Another memorable instance is when Banshee deals with the henchmen outside the lift. That was an extremely creative move.
One creative choice that I didn’t like was the blood splatter on the camera lens. Like why have that? The director could have taken the creative decision to cut to another POV to eliminate that and show the effect of the gruesome kill from an observer’s spot. The fact that this happened multiple times put me off.
Antonio Banderas has moved on from his Robert Rodriguez roles. The cool quotient has disappeared, but he packs a punch as an exiled CIA agent who works as a bartender. He looks like someone trying to shed his old life, but you can’t take some things away. Caleb shoots like a dream and single-handedly destroys three men.
His daughter, Hailey, played by Catherine Davis, is like a mini version of him. She seems like a natural with a gun and comes across as a highly trained assassin in a major gun battle. It is poor writing that isn’t masked by the one dialogue regarding grenades.
Jaime King remained the standout, no-nonsense assassin who really brought the stone-cold killer to life extremely well. If only she had some good lines, Banshee would have been remembered. The one character from Code Name Banshee that would get remembered is Greene. His mannerisms and aura as the antagonist may grow on the audience. However, foolish writing plagues him as well.
It is rather confusing as to why a person with a gun and in control would opt to drop weapons to do things “the old-fashioned way.” Especially when he knows the proficiency of the opponent. It’s just stupid. Seeing his decisiveness in other parts of the film will make you question why he ditched his brain for his heart.
Overall, Code Name Banshee is a confusing revenge thriller that serves as a decent one-time watch; only for the unexaggerated fight scenes. The fight scenes aren’t prolonged (even Banshee vs Greene), and it is a blessing that the director didn’t opt for slow motion. That would have only prolonged the agony.