Bullet Points: Kill Command
There is no such thing as too many killer robot movies. I think I’ve been a fan of the sub-genre since I snuck a VHS copy of Chopping Mall in the late 80’s. Back then you could just have mindless machines using claws and razors to slice people to bits but movies these days are all about A.I. Kill Command is really a combination of the death-dealing robots of old, with the light Asimov touch that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in recent years.
Synopsis: An elite unit of Marines are sent to a remote island for training against some of the newest artificial intelligence that the military has in its possession. A human/A.I. hybrid goes along and it isn’t long until the robots begin killing the Marines for real. The training mission turns into a mission for survival when it’s clear that the A.I. is learning to be more efficient killing machines.
- Multi-hyphenate Man: Writer/Director Steven Gomez has mostly done visual effects works for different television documentary shows for Nat Geo. I think you’ll agree with me after seeing the film that his skills in post production are top notch.
- The Team: We’re introduced to the members of the squad as they’re preparing to fly out to the abandoned outpost. They are, of course, made up of an assortment of clichés and stereotypes; the tough woman, the fresh rookie, the big tough guy who doesn’t wear any body armor, and a whole bunch of NCO’s and officers to go along with maybe one private. The team immediately starts getting into some of my all-time biggest military movie pet peeves when they wear different gear/uniforms, flash their barrels around like they’re 17th century Musketeers, and generally have no discipline at all. Other than those things, I didn’t have many problems with them at all.
- Trustworthy: The team also takes along a woman who is able to tap into the systems used and is essentially a cyborg. I don’t remember what they call her during the movie but I’ll call her cyborg for simplicity sake. She basically turns into a walking GPS and radar for the most part. I can’t recall any moments in the film where I thought, “Damn, it’s a good thing she was there!”
- The Bots: The killing machines look pretty damned cool. They felt like something that the military would never make because they look too functional without all the sleekness that really sells to the government. I would think that a real machine that was sold to the military would have all sorts of shiny plastic all over it and have cool designs on it that said “Titan” or “Ares” or something. These looked too much like something out of The Matrix and not something that would actually exist. Don’t get me wrong, they do look cool but what happens when that hydraulic line gets caught on a tree?
- Military Tactics: The robots could have just watched some documentaries on military tactics or they could have input some actually manuals into their hard drives but they took the difficult route instead. The Marines set up an ambush for the Bots, wipe out a few of them, and then realize that the Bots were learning their methods the entire time. It made sense that the machines might try something like that but I wasn’t sold on the idea that they didn’t already know stuff that has been around for hundreds of years.
- The Big Guy: There is always a boss. It wouldn’t make sense in the movie if they killed a bunch of robots that all looked alike, only to find out that there was no big-ass King Robot or anything. You gotta have the final showdown. Most of the Marines are already kaput by the time they set up their final stand but a few of the men (I don’t remember their names) put up a decent attempt at making their own Alamo and the cyborg chick finally proves useful. I’m not going to lie and say I loved the final act but it had its moments.
The Verdict: Kill Command wasn’t the glorious movie that I hoped it would be but it had enough good stuff in it for me to recommend. It’s visually a really excellent film and I didn’t have any issues with any of the actors portraying the team but I didn’t feel the Thure Lindhardt did a great job of portraying the tough leader that you normally might see. Vanessa Kirby, as the cyborg lady, did a fine job of not being totally one-dimensional and I would say that the action sequences appeared to be well shot. It’s a solid sci-fi movie well worth checking out.