First Look Pictures // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 26th, 2010
Fear is in the air.
I've seen some really dumb conspiracy thrillers in my life. Toxic Skies sets the new gold standard.
A mysterious illness has broken out, sending its victims into the hospitals convulsing and vomiting and generally looking really gross. The disease displays symptoms that lead super-doctor Tess Martin (Anne Heche) to begin thinking that the Bubonic Plague has erupted. But when a guy named Jack (James Tupper), who just so happens to Speak Truth to Power, gets on the scene, he clues Tess in a frightening conspiracy. The duo must get to the core of the cover-up and in the process, punch my brain in the face.
I have little patience for hackneyed, you-can-see-the-bad-guys-coming-a-mile-away conspiracy flicks, and the few molecules of tolerance I did possess have been promptly snuffed out by the toxicity of Toxic Skies.
The set-up is okay. You've got a deadly disease and no one knows hot to fight it or what's causing it, the emergency rooms are filling up, the Army has quarantined the town and Armageddon is swiftly approaching. Not bad, huh? Tension, a body count and kiloliters of bloody stool. What malevolence is behind such horror?
And this is where Toxic Skies craters. Once Tess and Jack have the big exposition conversation, and he spins his wild conspiracy-that-happens-to-be-true-of-course theory, the film begins to systematically execute gray matter. The revelation is so incredibly stupid I can't not let it slip. If you don't want to know and would rather experience the inanity untainted, mind the SPOILER tags.
So here's the big secret behind the sickness. A slimy CEO (of course) of an even slimier corporation (of course) was tasked by the Army (of course) to create an additive that can be dumped into jet fuel. Why do this? To combat global warming of course! The CEO, slimeball that he is, opts to embrace full-blown James Bond villain levels of evilness and spikes his jet fuel concoction with a killer virus, a disease that he holds the only antidote for (obviously). Even worse, this sky cocktail is responsible for diabetes, autism, Alzheimer's, and cancer; and though it wasn't mentioned you have to believe erectile dysfunction is in there somewhere.
The endgame offers little deviance from the formula, save for a final sell-out by a man in uniform; because if there's anything the Canadian-straight-to-DVD industry can teach us, it's that corporate board members and mid-level Army staff are evil, murderous monsters.
No-frills DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 2.0 stereo, no extras.
I mentioned bloody stool earlier in the review and I'm going to bring it back again so it's the lasting visual that stays with you any time you think of Toxic Skies.
Guilty. Anyone have an antidote for crap?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: First Look Pictures
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated