Small sci-fi. So the apocalypse has long since happened, and humanity has retreated to underground bunkers a la the video game Fallout. The air outside has become unbreathable, and a select number of chosen people are in a state of hypersleep, waiting for everything to blow over. Two men (Djimon Hounsou, Norman Reedus) awaken to do their biannual maintenance, but when something goes wrong with air in short supply, they only have a limited amount of time to correct the issue. I know I must sound like a broken record, but this is another movie that I watched completely cold, and I knew nothing about this other than the cast before I sat down to watch this one (if you’ve been keeping up here, this is how I watch about a third of the movies I review). It is sci-fi, it is readily available to stream, and I had 90 minutes, so why not?
I can’t help but feel like this is a poor man’s Moon; this is a science fiction premise with very limited character interaction. Really, it’s these just these two guys and occasionally a woman that Hounsou’s character hallucinates, and that is it. These are both talented actors as well; Reedus has been holding it down as Daryl on The Walking Dead and is the brightest spot on that show, and Hounsou is an underrated actor that never gets enough credit. I think they’re both decent in here, but Air never makes the effort to make either one of them likable. I don’t know if there’s some unwritten law out there that says that there can’t be likable characters in post-apocalyptic movies, but from all the films I’ve seen, it’s a hard part to come by.
While I will say that Air is ultimately more ambitious than it is successful, it is not without its moments. There’s a really good moment featured early on when you realize that these technicians are glorified janitors, and that really changes the dynamic of how you view these characters. I like it when a movie can flip the script like that; you have no reason to believe this is not the same situation as the crew waking up from hypersleep in Alien. You would never assume that these people aren’t the heroes of their story, and it is interesting to see that it isn’t, in fact, the case. Air is an eerie premise with lots of isolation, and it does start with a lot of promise, but it does lose steam. It definitely misses the mark of a classic, but if you are a sci-fi junkie like myself, I can give it a low rental recommendation, as it is midlevel product.
Air (2015) ***
– Critic for Hire