Andron - The Black Labyrinth (R)

Action/Adventure 93 min.
By Alan Scherstuhl
"Familiar," a nice word for "derivative," is hardly the worst charge you can level at a science-fiction action-adventure. They almost all are, and the best of the familiar lot find a way to persuade viewers to go along with it. Writer-director Francesco Cinquemani's corridors-and-shadows thriller Andron does itself no favors by asking us to go along with a lot that we've gone with before: Set in a concrete maze beneath some future dystopia, it pits combatants to the death in a contest televised by a brooding tyrant to quell the population. That contest is no-joke called "The Redemption Games," and the contestants get it in their heads that they're somehow, through clever play, bringing about a revolution. This takes place in half-lit tunnels, with a cast whose charisma mostly can't penetrate the murk enough to make anyone distinctive, except Deborah Dyer as a shaven-head survivor.

Alec Baldwin splits the Donald Sutherland role with Danny Glover, for some reason, in a series of brief cutaway scenes in a fuzzily futuristic gel-capped office space. Baldwin glares at holo-projections of the action, saying things like "Let's liven things up" or "Now it's getting interesting." Sometimes it does — the brawls and sequences of competitors stalking one another and the tyrant's soldiers prove suspenseful and inventive, in complex shots taking advantage of corners, darkness and a cast playing hide-and-seek. The movie gets wilder as it goes: There are eyeball cams, a video game–style power-up, a scary super-soldier with a light-up luchador mask, lots of hurled lightning and the revelation, about 40 minutes in, of the gleaming city above all this subterranean combat. But then it all gets ponderous.
Francesco Cinquemani Alec Baldwin, Danny Glover, Michelle RyanGaia Scodellaro, Leo Howard, Gale Harold, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Clara Pasieka, Jon Kortajarena Francesco Cinquemani Momentum Pictures

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