Director: Steven Gomez. Starring: Vanessa Kirby, Thure Lindhardt, David Ajala . UK, 2016. IMDB: 5.7. My rating: 3/4. Slowly-paced action movie with military guys fighting the robots.
I didn’t have any kind of expectations from Kill Command, one more movie about the military guys against robots. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much? Probably, but that would also diminish the movie.
In not so distant future, a military group is sent to an island for training. The purpose or type of training is unknown. They are accompanied by Mills (ice-cold Vanessa Kirby) – half-human, half-android, and because of that has significant difficulties in gaining the trust of the others. As the unit deploys on the island, they unexpectedly lose any connection with the outer world. Soon the group encounter robotic creatures they did not expect.
“Kill Command” is a debut by Steven Gomez (responsible for both directing and writing), who built a career in visual effects. It has a budget around $ 1.5 million (it was hard to find the precise info, but it’s about that), which is very low budget for a movie that includes massive robot fighting scenes. But it looks as great as $ 150 million movies. Visually, I enjoyed ”Kill Command” much more than “Passengers”. Only that is a great praise already. The location is outstanding. It’s an island with hills, deep forests and some abandoned facilities – a perfect place for a sci-fi scenario like here. The movie was shot entirely in the UK.
Of course, technically it is still one more movie that explores the idea of a group of people going somewhere remote where they encounter something scary and unknown. But somehow ”Kill Command” still manages to be an original movie. It leaves a good aftertaste. When you watch most of these kind of movies, it often happens that it’s actually fun to watch, but they quickly fade out of your memory and the impression worsens as time passes. Strangely, with “Kill Commando” a reverse effect happened. What makes it stand out?
Several things. It’s quiet slowly paced. You will not see a continuous sequence of 1-or-less second scenes that resemble more of video clips, than a movie. It somehow reminded me of a sci-fi wave of the 80-s and 90-s. Even the action scenes are not that fast. You have enough time to see everything in detail and I think, it was more typical of a good old sci-fi film of 20-30 ago, than something newer. In one of the interviews, Gomez said he tried to show the robots in all the detail from close distance – and he succeeded.
”Kill Command” is quiet minimal – remember, it’s set on a remote island – but what you see has great design and lots of details, starting from abandoned facilities, uniforms, weapons and, of course, robots. The other thing is the location set and it’s used to a great extent. I would even dare to say that I had a feeling – pardon – that some scenes come close to being almost meditative. Maybe I am wrong. But even remote feeling like that says a lot about the impression you can get from a movie. I still remember well one of the scenes – in the light of a sunset, the soldier is on the roof of an abandoned building, aiming with his rifle somewhere faraway, waiting for the enemy. His body posture is tense. Around him you see the see, the sunset, the forests. In a “normal” movie, that scene would last half a second, here it lasted 3 or 4 and seemed like an eternity, but in a good way. And there are some scenes like that that here and there – it’s not something straightforward, but more of something you understand later.
The main problem of the movie comes from here too. I don’t know though if it was Gomez’ intention to film in that way (from trailer and posters, it seems no and probably that’s why some part of audience didn’t like it that much – they didn’t see that was expected compared to how the movie was promoted). That would be interesting to know and it’s a pity that the movie did not develop more in this direction. It looks like it can’t decide whether if wants to become an action movie or something more slow and deep. The acting is quiet good, but uneven. The characters mostly could have been developed more. You could easily find other things to criticize. But should you?
Worth watching? Yes! Far from being perfect, it’s a beautifully shot and richly detailed warfare movie. Tense and with its own nerve. Just keep in mind that it’s just not an average fact-paced sci-fi flick with humans vs robots.