Directed By: Stephen Gomez
Starring: Vanessa Kirby, Thure Lindharte, David Ajala, Bentley Kalu, Tom McKay, Mike Noble
Set some time in the future, a highly experienced team of soldiers led by Captain Bukes is sent on a training mission on a remote island, accompanied by a cyber-inhanced advisor called Mills. The training exercise is meant to pit the soldiers against the latest prototypes in battlefield robots, but as the exercise continues, it becomes more and more deadly, and there may be something that Mills is keeping from them.
Kill Command follows a couple of well worn genre tropes - the Men on a Mission, and Cast being whittled down to a few survivors - but handles both extremely well and with a range of great looking special effects work and technical skill.
Lets talk about some of the fx work. After the initial scene with Mills, we're taken to a military base with various squads kitting up and shipping out in dropships which look like a cross between the dropships of Aliens and Halo. This is some impressive green-screen/CGI work indeed and really adds to the scope of the story. Once on the island we get a mix of CGI flying drones and real robotics, giving the film's world a real, lived in feel to it. While the robots and drones are big flashy effects, there are more subtle things like the screen-scrolls seen in Mills' eyes, or the fish-eye reflection in the mirrored orb at the centre of the chief robot's head.
The story is pretty straightforward. Mills is part of a research team designing the next generation of battlefield robots, with the hope of one day replacing the need of actual soldiers on the battlefield. Capt Bukes and his team are to engage said prototypes in simulated combat.
Things go well to begin with, although the team area bit spooked by the robotic drones which keep flying past them, relaying their position to the enemy. They are also very suspicious of Mills, whose mind is linked to a cyber intelligence and can control machinery with her mind.
The camera-work is very impressive, refusing to go down the shaky-cam route and presenting clearly defined action. There are some great tracking shots of people running through the forest for example giving a sense of urgency and momentum without sacrificing the clarity of the scene. This also really helps the big climactic battle which sees the remaining soldiers under siege by the robots in and around some destroyed buildings.
Acting-wise the cast do very well. Some viewers may remember Thure Lindharte from the Danish thriller, Flame and Citron, in which he co-starred with Mads Mikkelsen. He kind of reminds me here of Commander Straker from the Gerry Anderson tv series UFO. Vanessa Kirby manages to findthe right balance between human and cyborg, making Mills a sympathetic character and someone to root for. Bentley Kalu and David Ajala also put in good work.
The robots themselves need mentioning as well. As mentioned, there are a number of CGI drones flying about but the stars are the next generation units which evolve and learn from their encounters. There's a genuinely chilling moment when the squad are ambushed by the battle-droids and realise they've taken up the same positions they themselves had used earlier to attack the robots. The machines move slowly but they are relentless andvery difficult to destroy and are wholly believable as real creations.
Its great to see British sci-fi of this calibre. Kill Command may lack originality but its a slick action-packed film. The ending suggests a new twist in the robot evolution so I hope that a sequel is considered.
8 out of 10 - Recommended. (MikeOutWest)