Edge of Extinction
Luke Hobson, Georgie Smilbert, Chris Kaye
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Is it too hyperbolic to say that post-apocalyptic movies are particularly timely these days? At the very least, the five-car pile-up of real-world events of the past several months have given audiences worldwide a taste for the worst case scenario on the screen, either as a form of doomsday prep by seeing how others handle that situation or just as a reminder that things haven’t gotten quite that bad yet. But given how the isolated nature of our current predicament has resulted in quite a bit of socially-distant malaise, there’s an argument to be made that this film represents the modern apocalypse better than most. It isn’t an argument in the film’s favour, though.
A very Walking–Dead-sans-zombies take on the ravaged wasteland in the wake of World War III, this film likewise relies on its characters to keep things interesting. But what we primarily get are a collection of people that are definitely abrasive, but not in a particularly engaging way.
It holds the central idea that collaboration and unity is needed to rebuild or even just to survive, a common conceit for the genre, but it constantly shows this by highlighting those who vehemently reject that idea. The hunters, the cannibals, the scavengers; the people who grab any resource they can find, whether it be food, lodging or breeding stock.
It’s like a monochromatic wash of nihilistic misanthropy, made drearier by the more-than-frequent wonky line reads from the actors. Admittedly, most of the cast do well enough with their nameless characters, but none of them manage to imbue their roles with the life needed to make them engaging. It begs for an Alex Garland to balance out the displays of self-destruction with an understanding that that is only one piece of the larger human puzzle, instead going for a Purge-ian simplicity that makes all the characters feel like ciphers.
But even that could’ve been suitable, as the actions of dangerous individuals is usually the reason why the apocalypse happens in the first place. And with how adequately staged and filmed this wasteland is, it might’ve made for a decent yarn. But at over-two-hours, there truly isn’t enough narrative content to make this feel like it deserves that much time to make its point. Even ignoring how plain the characters can get, what happens to them as far as plot and even the decent fight scenes don’t fill out the innards to an acceptable level.
Calling this outright ‘bad’ would be doing it a mild disservice, as it shows enough skill at film craft to pass the bar. But in a way, being this dull to sit through might be an even worse indictment, as the urge to fall asleep in the midst of all this bloodshed is way too strong to make this feel like a journey worth taking. Audiences shouldn’t be able to look from their screens to their windows, and think the latter shows a more entertaining end of the world.