Adrian Bol brings a gritty, ambient, and action-packed thriller in ‘Legacy of Lies,’ and the almost hackneyed story takes a refreshingly compelling path. The movie follows off-the-grid MI6 agent Martin Baxter, a single father troubled by a failed past mission. But when everyone wants a piece of a lost file, including the CIA, Russian Intelligence, and his colleague Trevor from MI6, Martin has to be the scapegoat in a deep conspiracy that goes way beyond his scope.
Meanwhile, he has to save his daughter from the clutches of the Russians, and the clock is ticking. With a meditative score, impeccable lighting, and commendable performance by Scott Adkins in the central role, the thriller is a treat to the senses. Still, you may wonder how much of the story is believable. Well, let’s find out!
Is Legacy of Lies Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Legacy of Lies’ is not based on a true story. Writer-director Adrian Bol crafted the movie from scratch, and he owned his material while doing it. You may know the Dutch filmmaker from the 2008 film-noir ‘Blindspot’ and 2005 mystery thriller ‘Castingx.’ The director paints his slick action thriller with the same dark, brooding, and voyeuristic visual approach while achieving new emotional depths with his characters.
When speaking about the writing process, the director divulged that he goes by the theme. After conceiving the essence, he tries to incorporate it into the story in several layers. In ‘Legacy of Lies,’ the director chose the dichotomy of “truth versus power” as his central motif. In the world of secret agencies and coercive governments, truth is often bartered for diplomacy and safety. Some theorists have come to suggest that we live in an era of “post-truth,” where truth is a commodity conjured by the positions of power.
In the movie, the dichotomy between truth and lies also governs the relationship between Martin and his daughter Lisa. Sasha, an essential character in the unfolding mystery, remains shrouded in lies and secrets till the very end. The director also incorporated the theme in Martin’s relationship with his ex-wife. The final result is a broad palette filled with rich and nuanced characters, all of whom have a story to tell. The film thus distinguishes itself from other genre ventures by invoking grounded characters, and the chemistry between the central pair of father and daughter seems quite realistic.
Moreover, the MI6 mystery of the story does not veer too far from reality, although names and situations are slightly altered to avoid any direct political engagement. Central to the puzzle is the conflict between the MI6 and Russian Intelligence. The Russians are hellbent to retrieve their almost-mythical file, but the file is perhaps a plot devise created for the sake of it. The setting of the early shootout where Martin loses the file is essential, however. It is Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, a country that has been under the shadow of Russian control for centuries, and tensions were further fueled after the “invasion” of Crimea.
Moreover, the agent shown in the movie, i.e., Novichok, may also have something to do with the Russians. As per a BBC report, Novichok, which translates to “newcomer” in Russian, designates a group of advanced chemical agents curated by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. Before the news of Alexei Navalny’s alleged assassination attempt took the global media by storm, the name Novichok came up in 2018 surrounding the mysterious attack on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia while they were in the UK. In the movie, Sergei Skripal seemingly becomes Sergei Skuratov, and Yulia becomes his wife rather than his daughter. Therefore, packed with wall-to-wall action, the film may otherwise come off as fictional, but the air of secrecy and fear created in the movie is somewhat accurate.
Read More: Will There be a Legacy of Lies Sequel?