Netflix recently released Duncan Jones’ spiritual follow-up to his 2009 Sci-Fi hit, Moon. The film is basically a sci-fi version of a Death Wish style revenge flick that takes place in future Berlin. Alexander Skarsgard stars as the main protagonist, Leo, while Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux also have significant screen time as Cactus Bill and Duck, and their storyline is almost, if not just as, prominent as Leo’s. The film finds Skarsgard’s Leo traversing the criminal underworld of Berlin, trying to find his missing girlfriend.
If you couldn’t tell by the title of this review, I was not impressed. To be clear though, this was not a bad film, the acting was solid, the visuals were amazing, the world building was great, but the pacing felt off to me. the movie was just over 2 hours long, but felt much, much longer. I found myself losing interest in Leo’s story and while I was interested in what was going on with Cactus Bill and Duck, I just didn’t care enough for it to rope me in and keep me intrigued. I didn’t care for Leo as a character, so I didn’t really care whether or not he was able to find his girlfriend.
Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) and Duck (Justin Theroux) on the other hand provided a slightly more interesting story. After leaving the military, Duck settled in Berlin and built a medical practice there and after going AWOL, Cactus Bill took to Berlin to hide out and enlisted Duck to assist him on jobs he would do for one of the local club owners/crime bosses in order to get fake identification for both him and his daughter so they could leave Berlin. Since watching the film I’ve read a couple interviews with Duncan Jones and he revealed that Cactus and Duck were homages to Trapper John and Hawkeye from Robert Altman’s fantastic film about the 4077 mobile army medical unit during the Korean War, M*A*S*H. Duncan Jones set up Duck and Cactus as what Hawkeye and Trapper John would be like if they were bad guys, knowing this, makes their story make a lot more sense, especially given Paul Rudds ‘stache. That being said, it still wasn’t enough to bring me in, there was some weird, awkward paedophilia storylines going on, and while their chemistry was great, it was again, not enough for me.
There were a few great cameos from Sam Rockwell, reprising his role as Sam Bell from Jones’ Moon, Dominic Monaghan as a weird geisha dressed customer of a pimp, and Noel Clark, who I know better as Mickey, from the first few seasons of the rebooted Doctor Who. Overall though, I can’t recommend this film for most people. There are definitely those out there who would like it, I’m not even sure exactly what precisely about it I didn’t like as I do enjoy slower paced Sci-Fi films that are focused more on character development than big explosions, like Moon was, which this film definitely is.
If I had to give this film a rating, I’d give it 2/5, If the pacing was better or the story was more interesting, this could have been a very solid film given how good everything else was, I hate giving it a bad rating though because, for the most part, I enjoyed all the performances (I wasn’t sold on Skarsgard), I thought it looked fantastic, and I know there’s people out there who will really enjoy the film, but overall, for me, it just didn’t hit the right marks.