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    Air (2015): Movie Review

    “An airless and void apocalyptic film despite its interesting premise.” 

    Norman Reedus plays another post-apocalyptic survivor in Air, a low-budget claustrophobic sci-fi film co-written and directed by Christian Cantamessa. Instead of shooting zombies with arrows, this time, Reedus looks after the living sleeping deep underneath the ground.

    With bombs exploding everywhere and massive chemical warfare being prevalent, Earth is completely obliterated. However, miles below the planet’s surface is a missile silo where brilliant scientists and great minds are preserved, deep in cryogenic sleep. They are to be awakened if the air above the ground becomes breathable again. Taking care of the entire facility are engineers Bauer (Norman Reedus) and Cartwright (Djimon Hounsou). Every six months, they awaken to make necessary repairs and check if all equipment are working. The catch is that they must perform the task in two-hour shifts of carefully rationed air.

    For surly and oafish Bauer, his form of comfort while getting the job done is watching baseball reruns and old news telecasts. For gentle and dutiful Cartwright, talking to an imaginary woman, Abby (Sandrine Holt), keeps his sanity intact. But an accident soon disrupts the tacit relationship of the two engineers. One cryogenic chamber is burned and they must find replacement parts. With time ticking fast, tensions build up and the duo explodes against each other. 

    Air has an intriguing central premise. With its attention-grabbing prologue, it is initially evocative, compelling and smart. But as it progresses, disappointingly draggy and uneventful, the air burns and we are suffocated with undeveloped ideas, lethargic conversations, and void silences. It loses excitement and nothing seems to hold viewer’s interest anymore. Its material is scarce and director Cantamessa desperately tries to prolong each scene but to no avail. A compact short film would have been more functional and dramatic. The final act, totally absurd and jaw-dropping, is an anticlimax, draining what air is left in the film.

    As not much event is going on, the film is driven by its two heroes as they make moral choices. Yet, the film fails to explore deeper layers of their characters as they are limited to lazy dialogues and hazy remembrances. There is no sense of psychology and we are left not caring with what happens to them. In both man-to-man and man-to-nature conflicts, the film misses to hit near the mark.

    The film’s limitation in resource is obvious with its outdated backdrop. Monochromatic computer monitors, dot-matrix printers, cheesy buttons and easily-tampered pipes make up the facility. If the movie has been created decades ago, it would have been acceptable. But it is made presently and having such technology in the future when the apocalypse will take place simply does not make sense.

    Both actors did a decent job with their characters. As usual, Reedus is efficient as someone rough and rugged. His Bauer is not derivative of his Walking Dead’s Daryl as there is not much action and physical scuffles happening in the movie. Hounsou is soulful as the steadfast and compliant Cartwright. His moments with Holt, though creepy, are tender and sweet.

    With its short cast, drab shoots and poor setting, Air immediately floats into oblivion.


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