Kill Switch (R)

SciFi/Fantasy 91 min. June 16, 2017
By Chris Packham
Kill Switch is an ungainly hybrid of two disparate mediums that have been Human Centipede–d together: film and first-person-shooter video games. Film is not the front end of this configuration. Dan Stevens is Will Porter, a scientist who works for Alterplex Energy, which has caused an apocalyptic accident with a new, experimental power plant that draws energy from what is clearly a mirror universe -- all the signage is backward, for instance -- but which his shift supervisor, Bérénice Marlohe (Skyfall), insists on calling an "echo universe." Transported there to shut down the mirror power plant, Will navigates an urban battlefield populated by environmental terrorists, robotic drones and corporate security thugs. Most of the film is shot in first person from Will's perspective, a gimmick that is technically well accomplished by first-time director Tim Smit, a visual effects supervisor. If you enjoy passively watching your buddy play video games and never getting a turn, Kill Switch is the film made for your weird preferences.

Astonishingly, the plot and visuals are lifted wholesale from Valve Corporation's decade-old Half Life 2, one of the most revered and deservedly popular titles in the history of gaming. From the tactical streetwear of the rogue environmentalists to the ominous tower dwarfing an unnamed European city under sci-fi siege, the overall impression is hammered home so forcefully by the first-person visuals that Valve might have grounds to file an intellectual-property lawsuit. Where gaming-inspired Tom Cruise action vehicle Edge of Tomorrow was an elegant inquiry into the passage of time, Kill Switch is an inquiry into how totally bitchin' Half Life 2 was back in 2004.
Tim Smit Dan Stevens, Bérénice Marlohe, Tygo Gernandt, Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Chloe-May Cuthill Charlie Kindinger, Omid Nooshin Saban Films/Lionsgate

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