Here we have a curious newcomer, providing us with his film debut as both writer and director. The man in question is one, Matthew Reilly. This guy has to be the epitome of someone who sounds altogether familiar, but when you look him up, he hasn't done... basically anything but this (at least for the screen). So with that being said, I'm going to go ahead and give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. For someone's debut, it's not actually that bad for a straight-to-Netflix action movie.
This one kind of hits the ground running, as an interceptor launch site in Fort Greely, Alaska is attacked by what is presumed to be a terrorist faction. A second interceptor site is found in an undisclosed area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, closer to Hawaii. These sites' purpose is to intercept any nuclear warhead launches targeted at American soil. Sent to defend the second site from attack is US Army Captain, JJ Collins (Elsa Pataky), her deployment here mostly due to reported sexual misconduct from one of her superiors, along with a terrible amount of hazing and bullying, and before I get too far with it all, yes, this is a "woke" movie that is generally about highlighting this woman's abilities in the face of adversity.
Collins comes on-site as part of the last line of defence after Fort Greely's hostile takeover, working under Lt. Colonel Clark Marshall (Rhys Muldoon) command. She further works with Beaver Baker (Aaron Glenane), whose personality suits his name as the token toxic male character, and Corporal Raul Shah (Mayen Mehta), a not-so-confident pencil-pusher type who, for some reason, they chose to work at this facility. I have to say, Shah is not my favourite character type, and some of the lines this guy has to say are kind of ridiculous. Actually, a good chunk of this movie is kind of ridiculous.
Anyway, eventually, Collins finds herself against all odds as the facility is, of course, eventually infiltrated by a terrorist team led by ex-military intelligence soldier, Alexander Kessel (Luke Bracey). As I was watching this guy though, in a weird way, I started to wonder if the great Hank Scorpio of 'Simpsons' fame (possibly the single-greatest one-off character that show ever had, Season 8, Episode 2) inspired this guy in some ways. He's not exactly the same guy or anything, not even with a similar personality. However, just a few decisions and lines the guy delivers is just enough to make you want to watch that episode all over again.
I think my biggest takeaways from this were that 1, this was definitely written as a woke movie with a fair amount of almost forced "girl power" within. I DO NOT have a problem with this idea, but I still think there's a right way and a wrong way to write that kind of role. It seems the best way is to just write the hero role with no gender in mind - 'Alien' pulled this off incredibly well, and that's going back to 1979! But listen, don't let me take anything away from anyone, either. The truth of the matter is that Collins is still a pretty fun action hero to follow, and one can take some of her cheesiness with a grain of salt. If you can think of her as a Schwarzenegger type - in other words, she's there simply to be a strong hero with an odd (perhaps lame) one-liner.
I think if you can go into this with the right mind-set, you can still be entertained by it. It's important to remember a bunch of stuff going into this, however, and the big one is the idea of this being one man's directorial AND screenwriting debut. The saving grace is actually probably his co-writer, Stuart Beattie, who one might recognize from writing for the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies, along with golden gems like 'GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra', 'I, Frankenstein' and '30 Days of Night' (okay, so maybe not so much sarcasm on that last title, which I admittedly enjoy). The other thing is not to take it too seriously - it can fit nicely into the "dumb, fun action" category if you allow it to. It's not something I'll rush to watch again, but I was entertained as long as I thought of it as a video game movie that wasn't based on a video game.
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