Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Edward Drake

Stars: Bruce Willis, Frank Grillo, Brandon Thomas Lee, Perrey Reeves, Adelaide Kane, Costas Mandylor, Lochlyn Munro, Corey Large, C J Perry, Eva De Dominici.

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There was once a time, in the decade following Die Hard, when we used to look forward to the next big Bruce Willis action movie, knowing pretty much what it would deliver. Now, however, we try to avoid them as he seems to churn out a succession of generic C-grade stinkers that would have gone straight to DVD or the remainder shelf in old video stores. He seems to be doing these stinkers as some sort of contractual obligation. The latest example is the dire, low budget sci-fi drama Cosmic Sin, which comes from Melbourne born filmmaker Edward Drake (Broil, etc). This is his second collaboration with Willis and is probably the nadir of both their careers.

The awful and boring sci-fi drama is set 500 years in the future. Earth has spent several centuries trying to colonise other planets in the solar system. After the colony on Mars failed, the so-called Alliance tried to colonise other distant planets like Zafdie and Ellora. In 2519, Zafdie tried to secede from the Alliance, and renegade general James Ford (Willis) was ordered to drop a Q-bomb on the planet. This quantum bomb was much more powerful than a nuclear bomb, and it killed over 70 million inhabitants. But, as a consequence, Ford was dishonourably discharged from the army.

Now in 2524 a hostile band of parasitic aliens from a recently discovered civilization have attacked a lonely mining outpost on the planet of Ellora. Ford is recalled to duty by his hard-nosed commander general Eron Ryle (Frank Grillo, also in the sci-fi actioner Boss Level) to launch a pre-emptive strike against the aliens before they can mount an attack on the earth. Ford’s ex-wife Dr Lea Goss (Perrey Reeves) once wrote a thesis on behavioural biology and offers a cautious warning to Ryle and Ford, but they both turn a deaf ear.

A small rag tag band of soldiers is assembled, including Ryle’s eager son Braxton (Brandon Thomas Lee, the son of Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and rocker Tommy Lee), Ford’s long time second in command Dash (Corey Large), veteran Marcus Bleck (Costas Mandylor), and Fiona Ardene (Adelaide Kane), a nerdy quantum scientist conscripted into the mission because of her expertise. They are transported via a quantum machine to the planet of Ellora, which seems to be covered in forests, where they will fight off the aliens and detonate a Q-bomb.

This is a morally dubious mission to wipe out an alien species, but the film only pays lip service to the ethical issue of genocide and the evils of colonisation. The script has been written by director Drake and his regular collaborator Large (Breach, etc), but the almost incomprehensible script lacks any real substance. The dialogue is cliched and technology heavy, but it seems like it was cobbled together by an automated program. The film is leadenly paced and barely moves into second gear, and Drake’s direction itself is lacklustre. The action sequences themselves lack any real sense of drama or excitement.

Visually the film seems like a throwback to those B-grade sci-fi shockers of the 90s with its garish neon-coloured visuals and in some ways resembles the superior and more ambitious 1997 sci-fi drama The Fifth Element. The CGI generated visual effects are less than impressive, and there is a lack of imagination to the set design and the costumes. For a film set 500 years in the future, the filmmaker’s vision of Earth seems remarkably close to the latter part of the twentieth century – technology, weapons, fashion, everything looks pretty much the same as today, and people still ride pick-up trucks, motorcycles, and drink in dive bars – although the bar tenders are robots, and the live music is played via holograms.

Willis previously saved the world in Armageddon, but here he can hardly raise any energy and he seems to sleepwalk his way through the film. He brings his trademark smirk to the role of the disgraced general, which suggests that he knows he is appearing in rubbish but is being well paid to do so. He phones in his performance here. And Grillo’s general Ryle goes missing for nearly half the film.

Cosmic Sin is something of a mess, and one can only hope that its ineptness is due to the fact that the film may have been butchered in the post-production phase.  

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