Last Sentinel

Review by Rich Cline | 35

Last Sentinel
dir Tanel Toom
scr Malachi Smyth
prd Ben Pullen, Ivo Felt, Jorg Bundschuh, Pippa Cross, Matthew James Wilkinson
with Kate Bosworth, Thomas Kretschmann, Lucien Laviscount, Martin McCann, Karin Tammaru, Ben Pullen, Jan Erik Ehrenberg, Monica Tuvi
release US 24.Mar.23,
UK 28.Apr.23
23/UK 1h52

bosworth kretschmann mccann

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laviscount and bosworth
Set in a future when the climate is out of balance, this slow-burn thriller features four characters in an existential limbo. The simple premise is elevated by strong filmmaking and an engaging cast, while an understated, often enigmatic storytelling approach keeps us intrigued even if concrete details are naggingly elusive. This undermines the thrills, but it's still an involving look at how people react to an uncertain future.
In 2063, after rising sea level has sparked increasing land conflicts, the four-person crew of a storm-damaged military outpost in the middle of the ocean has lost contact with the outside world. And their relief ship is months overdue. Corporal Cassidy (Bosworth) keeps an observant eye on her male colleagues: short-fused Sergeant Hendrichs (Kretschmann) is mercurial and paranoid, muscly comms guy Sullivan (Laviscount) is struggling to stay optimistic, and engineer Baines (McCann) is losing the plot. All are beginning to wonder if an enemy force might ambush them. Then a ghost ship floats by.
In a contained film with a slim plot, writer Smyth and director Toom create several properly tense sequences. Most of these centre around the growing conflict between the controlling Hendrichs and the rest of the stir-crazy crew. Scenes play out in a hushed tone, with enough variety on the platform to keep things visually interesting in the middle of an endless sea. Most interesting is what's going on between the characters, expressed with minimal dialog as three people take a stand against an increasingly dangerous leader. Or maybe there's another danger they should be watching.

Issues between these four people become apparent early on, offering hints (and red herrings) about where the story is heading. Much of this is sharply well-played in wordless glances. Kretschmann strides around growling under his breath, adding menace to each scene. Bosworth and Laviscount create a complex romantic connection that adds some drama as well as a hint of sexiness. And McCann is a more lively figure. All four are solid at mixing big emotions into the subdued atmosphere.

In the end, the sci-fi angle is essentially irrelevant, as it adds little to the situation and there's no whizzy tech in sight, aside from some sort of powerful military weapon that gets a bit too much screen time. But while the understated approach offers some inventive touches, the twisty plot feels stretched out over the extended running time. The actors keep the film watchable, but perhaps some more offhanded interaction would have made the whole story more compelling.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 25.Apr.23

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© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall