This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.
It’s time to look at a fairly recent Sci-Fi thriller. The title’s pretty neat and the poster’s cool so this should be a hit right? I feel like the writers really messed up here. It’s actually got a pretty engaging start and a solid plot. The problem is that the plot doesn’t progress after the first 5 minutes so the rest of the film is the characters being confused the whole time. The characters never seem to act logically and there is a ton of plot hax throughout. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film that wasn’t thought out to this extent. It’s still way better than other films I’ve seen recently, but it’s not good enough to give a positive score.
The movie starts by introducing us to Will. He had a pretty solid job and clearly makes a lot of money. Still, he’s called in by a powerful company called Alterplex and they make him a deal that he can’t refuse. His family will be rich and the only catch is that he will be on call 24/7 for some kind of great experiment. The film cuts us between the past and the present quite a lot, but that’s the general plot of the past. In the present Will finds himself on another world and he must find out why exactly he is here and how to get back to his family.
I don’t really mind the jumping between the past and the present so much. It’s a pretty good way to jump us into the action right away and then find out why he did it. The only problem here is that the film overrates how confusing it is. It’s pretty easy to follow what’s happening, but the film gives us a few too many flashbacks to really try to give us all the details. I think a little less jumping in the second half would have helped because after a point you already get what the film is trying to go for so we don’t have to keep treading down that road.
Ironically the flashbacks were more interesting than the present scenes and I can’t think of another film where that happened. In part it helps that the flashbacks had better camerawork that was more like a traditional film. The graphics were good here and the characters were more interesting. I would have been fine staying in this plot although the drama with his sister and the kid wasn’t as interesting. Will did make the right move in deciding to go back to their old place. The kid was clearly not adjusting well even though he tried to be a good sport and it was clear that his sister wasn’t happy either. So even if it cost them a lot of money, Will was ready to leave. Things just didn’t work out so well for him there.
In the present, the problem is that Will should have died early on. We get a ton of scenes with SkyNet type drones flying around and blasting everyone. They have machine guns at the ready and are built like tanks so you really shouldn’t be knocking those out very easily. Despite this, we see humans blasting away at them and winning most battles. There are points where Will just runs up to them and start blasting. Somehow they miss every shot while Will knocks them down. It’s a common rule of action films that the villains will miss every shot while the heroes land theirs, but this one takes it to the extreme. The odds don’t matter to Will as he just runs through everything. It gets incredibly hard to take seriously.
Additionally there is no variety here. As soon as he exits one gunfight we are thrown into another one. Will doesn’t get any rest much like the viewer. I don’t mind nonstop action scenes for most films like car chases of Transformers throwing punches, but at least those have some kind of power scaling. These fights are just Will somehow being basically bulletproof as he takes down impossible odds. It’s really rare that you see action scenes so unbelievable. Will is a good character though. He makes the right choices here and I’m also glad that he didn’t even have to think about the final choice much. It is a bit of a no brainer on if you’re going to save your planet or a different one. It may sound selfish, but it’s not a decision I would think on much myself.
Abby is one of the main characters although we mostly just know Earth 2 Abby. Earth 1 version was fun enough and was certainly invested in her job. Earth 2 tended to panic a lot and seemed really in over her head the whole time. I really think the villains felt no real loyalty towards her even if she didn’t really seem to realize that. This is why you can’t trust villains, at the end of the day they will always betray you. Her final decisions make sense from her point of view of course, but I wouldn’t say that I was a fan either way. She’s just not my kind of character. Then you have Michael who also panics a lot. He comes in handy near the end, but you can’t help but feel a bit annoyed at him as well. His opening scene with Will is really just a compilation of the two characters yelling a lot.
One of the worst scenes in the film is definitely when Will meets up with the leader of the resistance. The guy asks him to say what is name is to which Will ignores him and starts panicking again. Both of them yell a lot but neither one is listening to what the other is saying. It leads us to another gunfight, but one that was super avoidable if Will had just answered the question. It was a simple question so I couldn’t take the scene seriously. This happens a lot in the film where characters will be talking, but nobody is listening to each other.
The writing is very weak. The characters rarely make decisions that are logical and panic way too much. Why did Will have to conveniently get partial amnesia for part of this? He also heals pretty quickly with a lot of the injuries he gets. He’s lucky that the world has a sci-fi healing equipment on hand for the final injury too since that would not have gone over very well for him. The film also randomly gets a bit violent with some of the medical stuff and you do see a lot of corpses on the ground.
Overall, Kill Switch is probably the biggest bundle of missed opportunity that I’ve seen in a very long time. It has a rock solid start and the atmosphere is pretty interesting all the way through. It’s impossible not to notice that nothing happens for a majority of the film though and eventually it gets to the point where it overwhelms the film. Everything is super convenient for Will. Getting more characters into the mix and perhaps identifying the Kill Switch earlier would have raised the stakes. If Will had gotten to meet his family from this side it would have made his choice a lot harder. As it stood, it really wasn’t a choice. It’s interesting, but I’d recommend watching a different Sci-Fi film over this one.