The last year or two has seen a mini resurgence in the alien invasion film. While ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ was barely passable and ‘Attack The Block’ was a pure delight that was missed by the public, we were left with the stupidity of ‘Skyline’ and this, the Timur Bekmambetov produced disaster, ‘The Darkest Hour’, a film so filled with inconsistency and stupidity it actually has to be seen to be believed.
The fact that this $30million sci-fi is such a muddled affair comes as a bit of a surprise given that director Chris Gorak gave us the straight-to-dvd gem ‘Right At Your Door’ in 2006 and Bekmambetov was almost solely responsibly for giving the Russian film industry a blockbuster shot-in-the-arm with the incredible ‘Nightwatch’ and ‘Daywatch’ films.
So where did it all go wrong? Let us count the ways.
The plot has technological whizz-kids Sean (Emile Hirsch) and best friend Ben (Max Minghella) arrive in Russia to pitch a deal to Russian web designers. When it all goes wrong they drown their sorrows in a bar where they meet fellow travellers Anne (Rachael Taylor) and Natalie (Olivia Thirlby). Before they can say ‘war of the worlds’ aliens are falling out of the sky turning everything they see into clouds of ash and our foursome have to run for their lives, taking refuge in a storage room for 4 days. When they finally venture out into the world they discover they are but a handful of human survivors who are now fighting for survival against an alien race they can’t see but can be traced thanks to an electrical field their bodies create.
The biggest perpetrator here is the script, which is leaden with clunkers sizable enough they could put Gary Busey’s teeth to shame. Just how anybody of Hirsch’s talent and capability can keep a straight face while plodding through this uninspired quagmire of unintentional hilarity is, perhaps, the greatest spectacle this film has to offer.
Whether its wondering just why the film is set in Moscow, the super-weapons made from microwave oven parts that are the only thing that can kill the attackers but aren’t used or the mad-scientist that has the know-how to do what the world’s best thinkers somehow don’t, there are so many opportunities to slap your thigh you simply won’t know what do do with yourself.
To be fair, the first half of The Darkest Hour works better than the culmination, which is such a convoluted mess that you’ll be left guffawing at the screen and wondering why, if the running time clocks in at 89mins, it feels like you’ve been watching it for a fortnight.