Director: Christian Cantamessa
Starring: Norman Reedus, Djimon Honsou & Sandrine Holt
Synopsis: In the near future, breathable air is non-existent and two engineers tasked with guarding the last hope for mankind struggle to preserve their own lives while administering to their vital task at hand.
Rating: 12 Duration: 91 minutes Release date: 18 January (UK)
Director Christian Cantamessa’s post-apocalyptic thriller starring Norman Reedus and Djimon Honsou as two blue collar workers charged with keeping the last of humanity safe in cryo-sleep has shades of Alien and The Thing and asks some startling questions, yet is rather more interesting than it is entertaining.
After a thinly defined chemical weapons disaster has all but wiped out the majority of humanity, the US government has built several underground silos in order to keep the last of the human race alive. These scientists and other intelligent types are kept alive after being placed in cryogenic-sleep, and everything is maintained by two working class men who wake for two hours every six months in order to maintain the facility and its inhabitants.
Bauer (Reedus) and Cartwright (Honsou) must perform several menial tasks upon awaking, but only have a few hours to do so before their air supply runs out. Each time they wake up the same tasks are performed and they generally do so without incident. Bauer appears to be growing restless with his job while Cartwright is a firm believer they are working toward the greater good.
It’s an interesting set up, and becomes more so when Cartwright starts speaking to one of the people who is meant to be in cryo-sleep. Director Cantamessa asks some intriguing questions at the beginning of the film, not least exactly how sane are the last two men on earth and can they continue to work together?
During their routine checks, Cartwright’s cryo-chamber is destroyed in a fire and the two men must set about finding a replacement or, quite simply, one of them dies. It soon becomes apparent that Air can ask necessary questions but doesn’t seem to be able to go anywhere with them. Can one of them sacrifice themselves? Can they eliminate one of the scientists in order to stay alive and is one of them going mad in the process?
Air runs along at a good pace, and the acting from the two leads keeps the film above water, but it never really thrills in the way in threatens to do so many times. There is a very good film in here somewhere, and director Christian Cantamessa steps up nobly from the world of video games but there isn’t enough to keep audiences thoroughly entertained in what is an otherwise very accomplished film.
There are two extras accompanying the DVD of Air. First up is An Account of Confinement where the cast & crew highlight what went into making Air. A large focus is placed on the level of claustrophobia within the film and how the film-makers went about creating this. There is also a smaller focus on the technology in the film that, similar to Alien, is a mix between low and hi-tech. Even though it only runs at just over seven minutes, it is nonetheless an interesting look behind the scenes featuring some interesting bits of information from the key members of the film.
The Custodians looks at the characters played by Reedus and Honsou and how they are both dealing with being two of the last men on earth. Again, it’s a short look at the making of the film, but what is here is intriguing enough to be worth a watch, it’s just shame that neither of these features stick around nearly long enough.