Technology runs amok in Steven Gomez’s homage to a certain kind of Nineties video shop B-movie.
Kill Command has got that whole Screamers/Death Machine/Split Second vibe going on, but unlike those titles, this one will not stick around in the memory for very long. And let’s face it, none of the films mentioned are classics or cult items. They’re humble genre movies that provided gory thrills and delightfully hammy performances.
After being sent to an island training facility, a group of soldiers led by Captain Bukes (Thure Lindhardt) and a cyborg government worker (Vanessa Kirby) are attacked by robots built for defence purposes. They have to shoot their way out or end up fried toast. That’s all there is to it.
The bare-bones storytelling and character-development-on-the-fly might be indebted to Walter Hill’s work on Alien, but Gomez, a former visual effects artist making his debut, doesn’t have the chops to turn it into anything remotely intriguing, let alone special.
Along with the European ensemble cast talking with cockamamie American accents, mouthing dialogue taken from the Bumper Book of Soldier Clichés written by James Cameron, the locations – the film takes place in woodland and disused Brutalist tower blocks – look cheap. Not just cheap, but unconvincing. A few smoke machines deployed here and there can’t disguise the lack of atmosphere.
The special effects, done on what looks like a miniscule budget, are decent. This is to be expected, though, given the director’s background. A lot of attention has clearly gone into the production design concepts and robots, too.
The Big Bad cutting down fools like a maniac in a slasher flick is a cross between Paulie’s robot from Rocky IV and a Xenomorph. The beast is impressive, for sure, but the lack of skilled execution overall makes the film seem as if it was based on someone’s drawing of a cool monster with the plot pilfered from Aliens.
Kill Command mostly sucks. Mostly.