Reviewed by: Scott Brennan
|Featuring:||Emile Hirsch … Sean
Rachael Taylor … Anne
Olivia Thirlby … Natalie
Max Minghella … Ben
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“Survive the holidays”
Everyone has their weaknesses. For this reviewer, it is the Science Fiction genre. One of my darkest hours for this Christmas-viewing-season was spending it in theater watching this film, “The Darkest Hour.” And to top it off, they got $14.50 from my wallet and made me wear 3D glasses! Please! Every time I want to believe there will be an exception in the science fiction category and that maybe this will be another “Matrix”—I get fooled. It was just like last year, when I never admitted to anyone that I went to see the film “Skyline.” I truly believed that the bottom had been reached in the genre with that film—until I saw this one.
I knew I was in trouble when I heard this line in the dialogue between Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) towards the beginning of the movie, “Every culture has alcohol and religion. That’s why I drink religiously!” It sounds like a line from a Christopher Hitchens commentary, someone Emile Hirsch greatly admires. This line is spoken inside a Moscow nightclub with cleavage-revealing-hotties peppering the backdrop, as they proceeded to use their pickup lines to get laid. In addition to the “worse than bad” dialogue that infiltrates nearly every shot are the continual and unnecessary profanities and obscenities which include several “GD’s”, frequent “OMG’s” from the valley-girl-lead-characters who keep changing from airheads to scientific geniuses, and multiple “s” and “f” words.
The plots to these “B movies” (that put the “B” back into bad) always follow the same formula. The first abduction or killing by the unknown alien occurs as everyone stands around and watches, just feet from the monster. When it happens again, usually one or more of the flat, stale characters that we don’t care about tell each other what just happened, as if the audience didn’t see it. Next, one of the antagonists (Skyler, played by Joel Kinnaman) gets “picked off” by the monster/alien when he steps too far away from the group, usually out of fear or stupidity. Inevitably, the plot thickens when one or more characters decide they need to get out of the city (Moscow, in this case) or even better—get to a U.S. Embassy first—which they also do in this movie (to no avail). Why do they always want to leave the city when they can see aliens for miles on the horizon? Next, the characters start connecting with other survivors and start to expose the weaknesses of the aliens, which appear to change from scene to scene, depending on what has to happen in that shot. Finally, a girl (Natalie, played by Olivia Thirlby) gets separated from the group and must be rescued by her newly found love interest (Hirsch), and a mandatory showdown must occur between the heroes (in this case Russian soldiers, mafia and Emile Hirsch) in an alien vs. human dogfight finale.
There you have it. No wait, did I miss anything? No.
To his credit, first time director Chris Gorak provides an interesting film, in terms of art direction, having supervised as art director himself on films like “Minority Report” and several other notables. The on-location shots of Moscow give some texture to the film, and there are some great images created, such as a downed airline which crashes (in one piece?) inside an elaborate government building.
There is some development of the characters that survive, in that they persevere and hold hope against hope, and appeared to see the value of life, in some new way. Others stay behind in the city to support their comrades and train even more survivors that they may encounter. This may speak to finding our place in the Body of Believers and doing what we are commissioned to do by God. Whenever I watch such films, despite their sci-fi realm of impossibility, I am always reminded that, as believers, we are actually in just such a war with creatures not too far off from these—unseen and dangerous.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
My prayer for the brethren, young and old is that we not forget this fact, and that we rely on the power of His Word to stand against them, as it says in the next verse:
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).
Of course, I cannot recommend this film for any reason, but I can recommend that we each have an “action plan” that lines up with Scripture for “the darkest hour” that may still be yet to come in our own lives.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.