I’m beginning to think that I’m a sucker for robot movies. And not a casual one, either, but hopeless. Regardless of how bad these shows are, or how good they “appear” to be—and you can tell a lot from the trailers—I keep on watching them and struggling through these movies. Battle Drone continues this trend.
As the latest show to draw me in with the promise of killer machines, Battle Drone is a sci-fi action film starring Louis Mandylor as “Vincent Rekker”, a mercenary down on his luck. Vincent’s team of mercenaries are hired by an arms dealer to retrieve a missing weapons cache left outside Chernobyl. The CIA—who want to ferment a conflict by making sure these weapons get to the right people—send in a team of their own to coordinate the ops. When Vincent and his mercs arrive, they discover a murderous robot out to get them.
Did I hate this film? No. Was it fun to watch? Sure, in that super popcorn-y way. But man, was it shallow.
As I dig deeper into Netflix’s archives, I sense that I’m being introduced to a whole world of B-movie escapades. As a result, I’m struggling with this newfound interest, because on one hand these films are not good movies. On the other, the ways in which these films are bad is fun.
As mentioned in our review of The Rift: Dark Side of the Moon, I find myself morbidly fascinated with how earnest these filmmakers are in their execution. I want to know if they realize that their movies are bad, or if they’re completely sincere in their attempts to make something new. Personally I hope it’s the latter, because it makes the pitfalls of these movies all the more endearing.
Despite an incredibly cheesy plot, the pacing of Battle Drone was well executed. Even with the stock lines and shallow character development, the actors were no more hollow than any of the characters that come with a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster. Did they lack emotional depth? Yes. But the actors had chemistry when working together and were entertaining to watch. The camaraderie among the mercenary team was uniquely enjoyable with a couple of twists, and one of the characters—the baby-faced Dax—turned out to be a complete psychopath. I’m a sucker for that sort of juxtaposition in a character.
Even with the improbability of the movie’s scenario—and how the characters remained unaffected by radiation while walking through Chernobyl—I enjoyed the setup for the plot. A third element ingratiating me to this series was again, the robots, although in this case I worry that the robots were influencing me to an unfair degree. Would I have been this charitable to Battle Drone if they hadn’t been included? Probably not.
While I didn’t hate this film, I definitely didn’t love it. That’s because—despite the pacing—the movie ended up boring. It was so obsessed with slow-mo action scenes that it forgot it needed a story to support the special effects.
The characters—beyond their rapport with out another and the stereotypes they embodied—had no defining traits. The story, while it is there, is very basic, and that story soon gets lost in the filmmakers’ quest to make sure that everyone looks as cool as possible in every scene that they’re in.
The portrayal of men as hyper-masculine and the women as empty-headed or dumb felt dated in its execution. In the current era of filmmaking, where we do have teams with multiple, competent women working together, Battle Drone’s scenario of “one-woman-per-team” is unfulfilling. If you don’t modernize your storytelling people will search somewhere else for their media.
I mean, c’mon guys. Give us better representation. We love robots, too.
Despite its fast pacing, it’s hard to recommend this film. The story was so lackluster that I actually fell asleep during the last thirty minutes, which is kind of damning in itself.
If you’re looking for another robot-related film to watch, you’re better off going with Kill Command, another sci-fi thriller featuring a murderous bot.
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