With artificial intelligence and robot technology seemingly taking
huge leaps forwards on a daily basis, it seems only
natural that some of the best minds on the planet are warning us about the chances of a Terminator-esque” dystopian future happening. And it is these fears that experienced visual effects artist Steven Gomez has chosen to exploit for his feature directorial debut.
Kill Command’s premise is a familiar, well told one; a group of elite soldiers, led by Captain Bukes (Thure Lindhardt) and a scientist(Vanessa Kirby)are sent to a remote location to test a group of advanced robots. As is usually the case, the scientists presence is a source of resentment amongst the group, but this time that resentment is for a good reason. For Mills is a technologically advanced cyborg, and thus is “one of them”.
Upon arrival at the test site, what is said to be a run of the mill exercise quickly turns into a massacre(didn’t see that coming!), as the soldiers find themselves the targets of the squad of brutally efficient killing machines. The question of why this is happening barely gets asked as their priority now is simply escaping with their lives.
Presented like an 80’s or 90’s throwback action flick, Kill Command is an old fashioned film, with the modern twist of having some cracking CGI. One thing it lacks that those it is trying to imitate had, is quality characters that stand the test of time. Think Arnie or Van Damme. Instead we get a group that just seem dispensable, which is a shame as there are enough hints about their backstory that w
ould have made us really empathise with the group, unfortunately these backstory are never expanded upon.
Vanessa Kirby’s portrayal of machine/human hybrid Mills is the standout performance of the film. She plays the character as more machine than woman, and does a fine job of flicking from human and empathic to an elusive and distant machine. It’s just shame the story dent go into more detail about how much humanity is left in her, or how she became this hybrid in the first place.
However, when all is said and done the real star of the film is its CGI effects, but this should come as no surprise when the writer/director is a visual effects master. He does a magnificent job of creating all the emotionless robots seem a threat. Also keep an eye out for the big boss robot, which more than resembles Short Circuit’s Johnny 5! For the budget the director had to work with, the effects are nothing short of brilliant and there are major studio releases that don't do Cgi effects this good.
Unfortunately, I’m sorry to say thats where the positives end. The actual story is a run of the mill sci-fi flick, and would’t be out of place on the Si-Fi channel. It borrows idea’s from the likes of The Terminator and AI, but there aren’t enough original ideas to go along with them to get away with it. This, along with the very overbearing score and sound effects(the massive blasts of noise really spoil what would have been a tense final act), make the film a bit of a chore to sit through.
If i’m being totally honest, Kill Command really isn’t a very good film. It took me three attempts to sit through it for this review. But if you are a fan of sci-fi, you may well find it good fun and its worth checking out for the casual effects alone. However, as a horror film it just doesn't cut it.