Air – 2 out of 5
When I first read about this film, I was pretty excited to see it. Its story sounded like a prime breeding ground for some cool and dark sci-fi, the cast is composed of two actors I really enjoy, it’s produced by Robert Kirkman—the man who gave us The Walking Dead—and it was directed and co-written by the guy who wrote one of my all-time favorite video games; Red Dead Redemption. How could Air go wrong? Well, it can in just enough ways...
|On the plus side, Col. Saul Tigh from Battlestar Galactica was the president|
in this film's reality.
In the near future, chemical warfare has destroyed most of the world’s population and left the air un-breathable. The government quickly built an underground bunker where the world’s leading scientists, thinkers and, most likely, best bakers of sweet pastries and snacks were collected and put into cryo-sleep. Each of these facilities has two maintenance men who wake up every six months to do routine inspections and make sure the future of the world is sleeping well. One day, two workers; Cartwright (Djimon Hounsou) and Bauer (Norman Reedus), get up to do their jobs but an accident causes one of their sleep terminals to be destroyed. Now they are faced with a choice: One of them has to die or they try to figure out another way. As hopeless as it feels, things only get worse when they learn a startling truth about their job and the facility they operate in…
|Remember: Keep your Reedus stored airtight because|
if air gets to it, it will die. And if it dies, people will riot.
Some of the things that work really well with Air is its cast and its concept. The story is a simple sci-fi feature that is built on a solid foundation of isolated and claustrophobic tension. This future that's presented is a realistic way and I really dug how the equipment that Cartwright and Bauer are surrounded by looked antiquated in some areas and modern in others. It really helped show that these facilities were quickly thrown together in order to preserve the human race. Additionally, both Hounsou and Reedus are doing excellent job and really carrying the film—and that means a lot since they, realistically, are the only ones to the cast. Granted, Reedus isn’t really pushing his boundaries and playing something we haven’t seen before. For all intents and purposes, he’s just playing a slight variation of Daryl Dixon but he’s still entertaining in his role.
|"Here ya go, Rick--I mean, Cartwright."|
The problems I had with Air start with the fact that the story doesn’t dive deep enough into a lot of points of tension or conflict. After the sleep terminal is destroyed, Bauer and Cartwright are left with a really difficult decision: Do they try to repair the unit or do they sacrifice one of the chosen few so that the other maintenance man doesn’t have to complete their work alone? Sacrificing an innocent to save the life of another innocent is a hardcore moral decision and one that should have been a big point of conflict and suspense in the film but, ultimately, it’s a short scene that is fixed way too quickly. Instead, the film then just decides to have the conflict for survival be between Bauer and Cartwright and the film spins into a generic battle between the two. This could have worked but the characters are introduced so fast and their point of conflict brought about so quickly after the more interesting sequence involving a moral choice is swept under the rug that it was hard to invest emotionally in their disagreement and war for survival.
|The twist at the end is that the bad air was all a big prank from some super-|
Another element I didn’t enjoy about the film and really stole all suspense and interest was the inclusion of a deus ex machina from the writers. Cartwright has visions of his wife when he’s awake and even goes as far as talk to her while he’s doing his work. This is fine and it goes a long way to show the heartbreak he is going through. However, this quickly becomes a weak point of the film when it is used to solve any problem or minor hardship that he is facing. There are points in the story where he and Bauer have obstacles and barriers in their way and rather than have them figure it out (they are in charge of keeping and maintaining the facility, so they should have it covered), the mirage of Cartwright’s wife shows up and shows him what to do to get them out of their mess. Sure, his wife is a figment of his imagination so his subconscious is really telling him how to fix the situation but this presentation just feels lazy and like a plot device to just keep a story that is already moving very slowly on its rails and moving forward without any form of complication.
|The scene where she explains to him where to find the toilet paper after the roll|
runs out was a little weird, too.
It’s possible that my expectations for Air were too high but the final product was fairly disappointing. I did enjoy the concept and the performances from Reedus and Hounsou but the story is pretty bland and it’s conflict seems to be actively avoiding going the deeper route and, instead, settles for something far more generic—and that extends all the way to the very, very predictable twist in the story. Air looks decent and definitely had a lot of potential to be a science fiction film with depth and substance but, in the end, just felt more like a better SyFy original from days gone by. A time before all their movies involved weird monsters and tornados with sharks in them.