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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 08.13.15] post apocalyptic scifi thriller

On paper, Air looks like a lot of other post-apocalyptic, survivors-stuck-in-a-bunker stories. The quality of these varies greatly but it should come as no surprise that the one produced by "The Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman is one of the better ones.

Air stars Norman Reedus and Djimon Hounsou as Bauer and Cartwright respectively, a pair of engineers whose sole job is to keep their bunker and its inhabitants ticking. We meet up with the pair at the beginning of their shift, 90 minutes in which they eat, shit, jack off and most importantly, make sure everything is running according to spec. As they make their rounds it's clear that whatever forced the survivors under ground came quickly: the technology in the bunker is nothing more than 80s relics, the sleep capsules look surprisingly low tech and the sparse decorations look like leftovers from another decade.

The first sign of trouble comes early on and you just know things aren't going to end well for someone but thankfully director Christian Cantamessa who co-wrote the script with Chris Pasetto, don't follow the expected formula and Air takes a couple of unexpected turns which keeps things fresh even when it seems obvious where things are headed.

Air has the added bonus of cinematographer Norm Li behind the camera. His work over the years has been disparate and fascinating (everything from the monster movie Altitude to the found footage standout Afflicted (review)) and his work here continues to impress. The bunker feels large in the movie's first act but as the paranoia grows, the walls seem to close in on the characters adding to the movie's mood. The other highlight here is the great 80s inspired score which adds to the movie's pseudo-retro feel.

My major quip with Air, and it's more of a complaint than an actual problem, is the performance from Norman Reedus. Hounsou is great even though his dialogue is occasionally hard to make out but Reedus' performance is disappointing. Though there's great chemistry between the two actors and the characters they play have great banter, Reedus' Cartwright is little more than a shell of Daryl Dixon. Air is largely an acting showcase and Reedus doens't bring anything new to the table and though it works here, at some point soon it's going to get old.

Though it treads familiar territory, Air is definitely worth a look as it features an interesting story, great style and compelling performances.

Air opens August 14.

Recommended Release: The Divide

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Rain (7 years ago) Reply

Reedus plays Bauer, not Cartwright (see the paragraph before last)

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