This 2014 film, originally titled Scintilla is one of the most believable science fiction movies on offer at the moment. Its tale of genetic experimentation and finding DNA on meteorites scattered across Russia which go towards making a human/alien hybrid feels all too real in a time where gene splicing is almost becoming the norm.
Directed by Billy O’Brien (Isolation, Ferocious Planet) from a script with no less than five writers, one of whom is the director himself, and starring John Lynch (Black Death, The Secret Garden), Craig Conway (Doomsday, The Stagg Do) and proving that there is life after Misfits, Antonia Thomas. The cast is rounded out by a group of excellent character actors that include Jumayn Hunter from Attack the Block and Eden Lake, who all really help to sell this film’s story.
Lynch, who has been a favorite since The Secret Garden plays Powell, a mercenary who is in prison being tortured at the start of the film. He is released to retrieve a scientist who is ensconced in a underground lab. The doctor is busily experimenting on human/alien hybrids and Powell heads up a team, of his old mercenary comrades, to enter the facility.
This movie looks brilliant. Resembling a war film rather than a science fiction thriller, which it really is, helps to sell the plot, telekinesis and telepathy included. The hybrids, and the Mole Rats are equally disturbing although the alien/human specimens initially move the viewer more toward pity. Later, those feelings are replaced with a sense of fear as the male gets loose.
The director has done a brilliant job of letting his actors run with the roles assigned them. Amusingly, Craig Conway’s character gets something lopped off, reminiscent of his Sol in Doomsday and he actually gets the best line in the film, “iPhone batteries always let you down.” His Mason may spend a good portion of the film silent, but he gets the best, albeit short, character arc of the lot with a great redemption scene as well.
Ned Dennehy (Blitz, Sherlock Holmes) as Harris gives a great performance as the chap who seems to be capable of doing it all. A sort of Chief Cook and Bottle Washer who also has a pretty decent arc. Keep an eye on Chris Ellis-Stanton, who plays Williams, this actor has the presence of a young Roger Moore and will no doubt become someone who graces British screens quite a lot in the future.
The only let down in the film’s cast is the scientist, played by Beth Winslet. That could well be down to the lines her character had to deliver with a maximum amount of dispassion. Available on US Netflix at the moment this film earns a good 4 out of 5 stars for being presented in such way that the viewer is not overwhelmed by the more fantastical side of science fiction. From Powell’s constant eating of what appears to be either a corn beef or ham sandwich to the Russian biker girl (played superbly by
Aiste Gramantaite) with enough attitude to sink a ship, the film, its plot and characters all have a gritty believability that is a pleasure to experience.
Do not miss this cracking little film with the big cast and don’t let the hoodie at the end terrify you too much.
19 May 2015