When a military scientist is drafted is drafted into a war torn country to investigate the bizarre images that US Special Forces soldiers have captured just before their deaths, Dr Mark Clyne (James Badge Dale) finds himself in a desperate battle for survival against an enemy that appears to be invisible to the naked eye , impervious to modern weapons and is seemingly unstoppable..
Oh boy, trust me to start 2017 with a stinker. Okay, look, I don’t want this to seem like I don’t like I’m being awkward or argumentative. I am well aware that this movie has had some very favourable reviews. I just struggle to agree with any of them.
‘Spectral’ looks and feels like a movie that was superstitiously removed from a major movie studio’s release slate. It’s central idea is an interesting one, how would the modern soldier combat an enemy that is effectively a ghost (there’s a painfully “sciencey” explanation for the presence of these beings in the film) but without some of the typical Hollywood pizzazz to cover for the deficiencies in the characters, you are left with a dull, ineffective Sci-Fi action movie that fails to really satisfy either of those genres.
In terms of positives, some of the production design is really great, in particular the weaponry used by the soldiers has been very well thought out. Some of the location filming adds a great sense of realism to the overall feel of them film. The cast has some solid performers included, Bruce Greenwood is always watchable and Emily Mortimer is a quality actor that lends some much needed class to proceedings. Max Martini always makes for a entertaining ‘grumpy soldier’ type, and he certainly gets to fulfil that here.
My major problem with this film is that it’s boring. It feels like a struggle to get through even though it’s running time is only 100 minutes. The plot is simple enough to follow, but it’s bogged down by so much science that unless you have a general interest in thermal imaging or condensate, you will find yourself really struggling to invest in the story. The characters are all either underdeveloped or just plain forgettable. There are some mawkish attempts to generate some emotion by adding some child characters to the story, but frankly, their performances were so bad, I cared little for what happened to them. Some of the visual effects are jarring and not very easy to follow. It would have been possible for me to put these things aside if the action had been particularly interesting, but because i didn’t really care for any of the characters. Apparently, this film has been seen as a supernatural take on ‘Black Hawk Down’. I suppose there are some similarities with that film from a story telling point of view, but unlike that film, ‘Spectral’ doesn’t give you any characters that you can truly root for, so you are left with a flat, uneventful adventure, that seems to have forgotten that a sense of adventure is crucial to that type of movie’s success.
‘Spectral’ is available now on Netflix, you can watch the trailer for it here:
Final Score : 1 out of 5.