Black Road (2016): Sci-Fi Noir (Review)

Leilani Sarelle in Black Road

Written and directed by Gary Lundgren (Calvin Marshall, Redwood Highway) Black Road is sci-fi noir with a capital “N.”  Starring Sam DalySimon Templeman and Leilani Sarelle the film follows a freelance cyborg soldier and his A.I. implant. 

Set in 2029 in an America broken up by seceding states, Black Road takes the detective thriller and places a modern noir flair onto the storyline.  Daly is ex soldier Dylan, he is a cyborg enhanced man who got to keep his  implant after being discharged.

He and Clyde (voiced brilliantly by Andrew Wilson) do freelance detective work, amongst other things.  Dylan enters the free state of Jefferson looking for his ex Sarah (Michelle Lombardo). He is broke, and  looking for work as well as a place to stay. 

Sarah, a singer, lets Dylan stay at her place. She is living with a cop named Bruce and pregnant with his baby. Dylan bumps into Lisa; a woman with an ex of her own who wants her dead.

Sterling (Templeton) is a weapon’s developer who started off as a hippy commune leader.  Dylan starts working for Lisa in spite of Clyde’s objections.  He soon discovers that Sterling is worse than he could have imagined.

Lundgren presents a world that moves languidly through its paces. While Dylan is no  cigarette smoking, booze guzzling gumshoe, the feel of Black Road is still that of classic noir.

It has a woman in jeopardy and a storyline that slowly reveals some pretty creepy stuff.  Templeton makes an excellent villain as Sterling. The man is a suitably nasty bit of work that no one in their right mind would deal with.

On a sidenote: Templeton voices a lot of video games. His dulcet tones may be more familiar than his face. The actor has worked on such favorites as Uncharted: Drake’s FortuneMass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins to name but three of the many games he has voiced. 

Daly gives his soldier of fortune character a downtrodden believability. His Dylan has a love/hate relationship with Clyde and as the film progresses it is easy to see why. The A.I. tells the former soldier the truth and never lies.

Sarelle is spot on as the “femme fatale” that Dylan decides to work for and take to bed. She exudes a battered sensuality that fits the character perfectly.  It is not surprising that Dylan is attracted to her or that he harbors doubts about her veracity.

There are some odd bits in the film. For example: Apparently in 2029, in the Free State of Jefferson at any rate, farmer’s (which Sterling claims to be) grow something that looks like an aubergine with spindly red legs.

People also chew on something that looks like tree bark and it makes them malleable.

Black Road ends on a somewhat ambiguous note that actually fits the nature of this sci-fi noir thriller perfectly.  While the pacing of the film is not an adrenaline fueled streak towards a finish, it does move solidly toward its conclusion. At 80 minutes the film does not really drag at all.

This is a solid 3 star effort that entertains and is reminiscent of the old Sam Spade type films or even more modern noir thrillers like  Chinatown.

The film is streaming on Netflix at the moment and is definitely worth a look. For those expected high octane action in their thrillers may want to give this one a miss.

Black Road is not rated but does have a little sex and some fairly tame violence.

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