Echo Bridge Home Entertainment // 2007 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 3rd, 2008
The future is riding on one woman.
Guns and artificial intelligence and shaky-cam battle sequences and partial female nudity and bad guys as dumb as rocks combines for an empty sci-fi action movie that you would swear was just ripped from your Xbox 360.
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) stars as a feisty freedom fighter, teamed up with a hard-ass super-soldier named Tallis (Don Wilson) to bring down the "Drone Police" force in a battle-scarred future wasteland.
Here's what we know. The Drone Police, cybernetic organisms dispatched by an apparently neo-conservative authoritarian human regime, have been tasked with keeping the peace and quelling all rebellion. Back in the day, a squad of elite, enhanced Marines was deployed to combat this threat, led by a gruff captain (Keith David). Guns were fired and one thing led to another and Tallis was the only one left standing, cursed to roam the wasteland with his talking gun.
But when he meets Sackhoff's unnamed freedom fighting blonde bombshell, his vigor for Fighting the Man returns, and the unlikely pairing set off to finish off the Drone Police once and for all.
Here's what The Last Sentinel is: it's a video game. If you've ever wanted to fire up your DVD player and watch a feature-film replication of what your typical post-apocalyptical third-person shooter would look like, here you go. I swear I was half-expecting the Bungie logo to roll out before the closing credits.
The story is boilerplate sci-fi/action fare -- both in the movie world and the realm of video games. You've got an oppressive, totalitarian regime running around being dicks to everyone and dressing up in shiny, mean-looking armor on one side and an indestructible super-terrific soldier hauling a female artificial intelligence. So then the Covenant attack with their dropships and Banshees and some Brutes and Hunters team up and, er, wait, never mind. What I meant to say was that the super soldier gets some help from a shapely blonde, trains her in a montage -- yes, a montage! -- and together the new BFFs embark on one last siege.
It helps of course that said shapely blonde is Katee Sackhoff, rich in geek cred and no stranger to action filmmaking. Fans will no doubt be talking about her wet and wild sideboob bathing interlude more than her line delivery, but she does well in a role that's not many degrees removed from her Starbuck character. Weirdly, though, she disappears from the film for a large chunk of time in the end.
The action is decent mainly because it's loud and there is a lot of it. The choreography is pretty uninspiring, with most of the engagements involving the good guys walking methodically towards the bad guys shooting their guns. Don "The Dragon" Wilson busts out a few martial arts moves, but they're dull and unimaginative...actually, kind of like Wilson's character in the film, who mainly just lumbers around with a permanent scowl on his face and goes out of his way to catch a nip slip from his female counterpart.
The Last Sentinel also fails to free itself from the clichéd pitfalls of the genre. The Drone Police, while touted throughout as impossible to kill and expert marksmen, are just as stupid as any other sci-fi cannon fodder; they attack in clumps, wander around in the wide open and fail to attack a lone opponent as a team, choosing instead to have their throats slices or torsos riddled with bullets. Plus they bleed a blue substance not unlike the stuff you see in Maxi pad commercials. Then there's the attack on the nerve center of Drone Police which is about as well-guarded as a nursery school, followed by the reveal of the minds behind the Drones; I won't spoil it for you, but they look less like evil warlords and more like college dorm resident assistants.
Echo Bridge hasn't impressed me with its DVD treatment in the past, and this one isn't great, but it's better than previous efforts. Thankfully the widescreen transfer is anamorphic, but the video quality is pretty horrible, overcome by a pervasive grain and soft color work. Yes it's supposed to look a little like Black Hawk Down, but there's a difference between grit and grain. The 5.1 Dolby Digital surround is loud and active, though. Two extras: a brief making-of feature and commentary from the director and producer.
The Last Sentinel plays like a derivative videogame. It's got action to spare and some recognizable faces, but corny plot elements and a disappointing video transfer mortally wound the experience.
Well, at least we don't have to worry about any more Sentinels.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Making-of Documentary