Stars: Vanessa Kirby, Thure Lindhart, David Ajala, Tom McKay, Mike Noble, Bentley Kalu, Deborah Rosan, Osi Okerafor | Written and Directed by Steven Gomez
In Kill Command, a group of military meatheads travel to a remote island for a training exercise involving ten-foot-tall combat robots designed to give the soldiers a run for their money but never actually do harm. A spoiler alert shouldn’t be necessary for telling you that within about ten minutes that “do no harm” protocol has been wiped clean.
It’s an uninspired premise and, as expected, the resulting film feels like a shoddy videogame adaptation of Terminator, with exactly the absence of imagination and intensity that comparison implies. I could go into detail about all the film’s flaws: the onslaught of gung-ho action clichés the screenplay delivers like a barrage of bullets; the unironic stereotypes that not even the most enthusiastic performances could salvage (for example, women fall into two categories: kick-ass action chick or near-helpless plot device); the CGI, which…well, the effects actually aren’t all that bad, but they’re used in such a rote, familiar way that you can practically smell the money pyre burning offscreen.
One could focus on those negatives, but it’s better not to think about the film at all. This isn’t meant to be uncharitable; it takes a lot of blood and toil to get any film made, and it’s an admirable feat when anything makes it to cinema screens. But that effort self-evident in the making of a movie begs the question, even (especially?) with lower-budget fare: if the filmmakers didn’t care about telling a compelling, interesting or unique story with complex (or at least engaging) characters and a killer hook, then why did they bother? Life is too short to clog up your movie nights with undercooked effects sizzle reels like Kill Command. You’ll be better off watching Terminator again.
Kill Command is screening at the Sci-Fi London Film Festival on Friday 6th May.