Film Review: Anti-Life

DIRECTED BY: John Suits

STARRING: Bruce Willis, Cody Kearsley, Callan Mulvey, Kassandra Clementi, Rachel Nichols, Timothy V. Murphy, Alexander Kane, Angie Pack, Thomas Jane, Corey Large, Swen Temmel, Ralf Moeller, Elicia Davies and Johnny Messner

 

SYNOPSIS

On the cusp of fatherhood, a junior mechanic aboard an interstellar ark to New Earth must outwit a malevolent cosmic terror intent on using the spaceship as a weapon.

Set in the near future, a spaceship flees a devastating plague on planet Earth with a few thousand survivors on board, the last remnants of humanity. But the ship has a stowaway: a shape-shifting alien whose goal is to slaughter everyone on board. Clay Young and his team are a hardened group of mechanics picked to stay awake and maintain the interstellar ark.

Anti-Life (also known as Breach in certain territories) is a sci-fi action film written by Edward Drake and Corey Large, and is directed by John Suits. Set in the year 2242, Earth is a dying planet, with a plague wiping out most of humanity and becoming inhabitable, a remainder of those left are set to travel into space to settle on a new colony called New Earth. We follow Noah and his pregnant girlfriend Hayley make their way onboard the Ark, the last spaceship left to take 300,000 survivors to the new colony, with the former being a stowaway impersonating as a junior janitor, and the latter being the daughter of the Admiral onboard. As Hayley is put into cryo-stasis along with the majority of the survivors, Noah meets the rest of the crew that’ll be awake during the travel to New Earth, including mechanic Clay Young. Unbeknownst to them however is an alien parasite is onboard the ship, infecting one crew member to the next and it’s up to Noah, Clay and company to stop the parasite from infecting the whole crew, those in cryo-stasis, and especially prevent it from reaching New Earth.

 

It’s evident from the screenplay that Drake and Large clearly wear their influences on their sleeve (Alien meets The Thing meets 28 Days Later), unfortunately to the point that the film is oversaturated with it and is climbing and uphill battle to give the viewer a fresher take on the material. One intriguing sub-plot that unfortunately isn’t given as much depth as it should is that there is a human rebellion unfolding, in which a small group planned to bomb the spaceship in the belief that humans should stop spreading death and destruction across the galaxy. Unfortunately this is handled with brief exposition and, frankly, there’s a lot of heavy exposition over the course of the films over an hour and a half runtime. The film has an interesting setup as we see at least one of the members of the rebellion has snuck the parasite on board, and that Noah is an official stowaway and to those that are caught out as being one are immediately killed and chucked out an airlock, so watching him trying to hide his identity should provide tension/suspense as Clay is not only constantly on his case about his daily janitor duties, but also questions about his past and what he’s assigned to do on New Earth.

 

While the film has these interesting ideas, in execution it just doesn’t work. The pacing of the film is slow, the interactions amongst the crew is light on substance, you don’t generally feel any affiliation towards the characters, and as for the parasite/zombie-like angle, it’s just so poorly executed. The set design work and some of the practical/visual effects are the only notable positives I can think of with this film, but with the way the film is edited during the action sequences, it’s so awkwardly done between the crew shooting the parasite horde (e.g. laser weaponry: you can see visual effect impact hitting body that appears to be no great effect, next cut however shows body already dismembered) to any one-on-one hand-to-hand style combat as we go for the handheld camera style here and feels like we’re missing the majority it. It feels like they want to go for the spectacle but don’t have the budget for it (e.g. a death is shown offscreen through reactions of the main characters a few times until it’s shown as ‘stock footage’) and while it can be fun to see how creative they can be with it, here it just didn’t work for me. There’s a few members of the ensemble that will be recognisable to film and television lovers out there beside Bruce Willis, with Cody Kearsley (Riverdale), Callan Mulvey (Power/Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Timothy V. Murphy (Sons of Anarchy/Snowpiercer) and Thomas Jane (The Expanse/The Predator) here as well, but nobody in the cast comes away with merit here.

 

VERDICT

Unfortunately Anti-Life is a lifeless husk of a film, with many odes and homages to films with similar premises, and brings us a predictable film with no characters to care or root for.

 

SIGNATURE ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS ANTI-LIFE ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS (AMAZON PRIME/ GOOGLE PLAY/ SKY STORE) ON 12TH FEBRUARY 2021.

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