cast: Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson, Katee Sackhoff, Bokeem Woodbine, and Keith David
director: Jesse V. Johnson
94 minutes (15) 2007
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Metrodome DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Ian Sales
After the success of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series, you would have thought Katee Sackhoff would have her pick of projects. So why on Earth did she pick this one? Was it the presence of champion kickboxing actor Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson? Or was it simply that she got to play Starbuck again? In The Last Sentinel, Sackhoff’s character might not be so named but she dresses just like Starbuck and acts just like Starbuck. Perhaps playing a female action heroine – so unlike herself in real life – is enough.
Because, let’s face it, there is nothing in this film which could possibly explain her presence. Well, there’s money, of course; but The Last Sentinel is low-budget. You can tell that from the locations… Industrial plant: check. Los Angeles back street: check. Los Angeles rooftop: check. While it’s tempting to think most of the movie’s budget went to the cast, I suspect it was chiefly spent on pyrotechnics. There are a lot of explosions, and a lot of fire-fights.
In fact, The Last Sentinel is little more than a series of fire-fights and action sequences crudely strung together with the thinnest of plots. It is the near future. Policing has been taken over by a “drone police army,” which appear to be some sort of cybernetic clones. But they somehow rebel, and slaughter humanity. Don Wilson plays Tallis, the last survivor of EE 700 Brigade, who were electronically-enhanced super-soldiers. He survives from hand to mouth in the ruins of Los Angeles (although the city looks remarkably un-ruined in the scenes set on various L.A. rooftops). One day, he witnesses an attack by drones on a small group of human resistance fighters. All are killed except Katee Sackhoff. He rescues her, treats her wounds, and looks after her. She tells him that there is a central drone control, of course, located in – of course – a disused industrial plant. So off they go to blow it up.
I’ll confess that I’ve never seen a Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson film before. I’m not a huge fan of martial arts action stars, but even amongst the few I’ve seen – in, erm, action – Wilson seems to be something of a charisma-free zone. The part he plays, an emotionless super-soldier, doesn’t help. Nor does his rifle’s AI, which manages to lecture, patronise and info-dump in equal measure. At least he makes Sackhoff look good, I suppose. The rest of the cast also fail to shine. Bokeem Woodbine, as Sergeant Anchilles, veers from passable to awful. Keith David, as Colonel Norton and the voice of a chain-gun’s mad AI, is better, although he delivers his lines with all the relish of a Shakespearean monologue, which they very much do not deserve.
If there is anything in The Last Sentinel’s favour, it’s that it appears more polished than most low-budget SF films. The special effects and pyrotechnics are not bad… although the drones’ control room proves to be a couple of benches with 1980s home computers and oscilloscopes on them. The cinematography is also a cut above expected. In fact, on reflection this film is bad only because of the unimaginative locations, the highly derivative story, the terrible dialogue, the bad acting… Which is I suppose is more than enough.