If you’ve ever read anything I’ve ever written, one thing should be abundantly clear – when it comes right down to it, at my dark little heart, I am a bitter, mean-spirited turnip.

Sure, every once in a while I’ll love a film. I’ll write enthusiastically of its merits. I’ll shout them from the rooftops. I’ll blog, I’ll tweet, I’ll Facebook. I’ll subject loved ones to forced screenings, I’ll corner friends/workmates/strangers in pubs/at parties/over dinner and rave about whatever’s floating my boat that week.

I don’t discuss the film because, be honest, have you ever met a critic who honestly cares what others think? I preach. I evangelise. I take conversational hostages. I want you to love Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bete or Don Siegel’s Charley Varrick or Nimrod Antal’s Kontroll as much as I do. I want you to know that you should watch Martyrs (the French original, not the US remake, never the US remake) because it left me feeling like I’d been punched in the soul, that you should watch Christopher McQuarrie’s The Way Of The Gun because its the best written film of the last 20 years. That you should watch Short Term 12 because it’s the last film that made me ball my eyes out.

But I’m at my happiest when a film is awful, when I get the chance to vent my spleen at the likes of Dirty Grandpa or Buttercup Bill, Birdman or anything shummed out by Ben Wheatley. I feel an almost tumescent joy when I realise while watching some mega-budget Hollyweird pap that I’m witnessing a stinker! I’m no Dorothy Parker but my shriveled heart skips a beat and I feel a delicious thrill as I uncap my poison pen and spray vitriol at Noah or The Boy Next Door or The Babadook. It’s easy to write about a film you can’t stand, that you think sucks, that’s just plain baaaaaaaad! 

But most films are neither of these things. Most films are just plain…ok. They pass the time effectively. For 90 or so minutes they ease the burden of existence by making you forget the soul-crushing ennui that afflicts you, distracting you from the roaring chasm of emptiness inside. They entertain you at the time but you know you’ll have forgotten them an hour after they’ve ended or by the time you get to the pub. Certainly by the next day. Even as you watch it, you’re already forgetting it, struggling to make notes like Guy Pearce in Memento. You see a trailer or poster for it and you vaguely remember that you liked it, that you enjoyed it, but by now you can barely remember a thing about it. Someone asks you if it’s any good and you reply almost immediately: “It’s…ok!”

Writer/director Steven Gomez’s feature debut Kill Command is just such a film. It’s ok. A low-budget British Sci-Fi actioner that cribs from Predator and Dog Soldiers, it’s a men-on-a-mission movie that pits a team of disposable stereotypical grunts with nicknames that sound like dating apps (Winder, Drifter, etc.) against an army of unstoppable self-aware killer robots that are THE FUTURE OF WARFARE! The grunts think they’re on a training exercise on a secluded island but the true purpose of their mission is to teach the robots strategy and tactics and obviously the students aren’t overly familiar with Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics. Carnage ensues.

A talented director and mediocre writer, Gomez’s action scenes are muscular and urgent, if a little familiar, while the dialogue seems to be a mash-up of Commando-comic clichés and direct lifts from…well, every single men-on-a-mission movie of the 80s and the characters are thinner than Prosciutto and a lot less meaty, only Thure Lindhardt’s haunted officer making much of an impression. Though that might just be because in a cast of unknown British thesps struggling to convince as an elite US Black Ops unit, only the charismatic Dane hasn’t bothered essaying an American accent, sticking with Scandi-flavoured English.

The true stars of Kill Command are, of course, the killer robots and Gomez’s creations are truly terrifying. Wisely never really giving the audience a good look at the film’s monsters until the final battle which recalls the bombed out street-by-street dynamic of Saving Private Ryan, Gomez’s robots are thoroughly inhuman giants closer to the lumbering Hector of Saturn 3 than the Stan Winston stop-motion Terminator endoskeleton, there’s a solidity to them, a sturdiness, their movements, neither fluid nor jerky, but grounded in a real world physics that makes them feel like a palpable threat, their blank faces and silence inscrutable and menacing.

A decent but forgettable, little Brit Sci-Fi flick that ultimately serves more as an audition reel for Gomez’s talents as a director, Kill Command is as robust, mechanical and efficient as it’s robotic antagonists. It’s…ok.

Movie Review: Kill Command
3.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (3 Votes)

About The Author