Cinema Review: Air | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, December 12th, 2019  

Air

Studio: Vertical Entertainment
Directed by Christian Cantamessa

Aug 17, 2015 Web Exclusive
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In the near future, breathable air has become a thing of the past. War and toxins have made life on Earth unsustainable. As a last-ditch effort to save mankind, some of the world’s leading scientists have been placed in a secure, subterranean bunker, where they lay in induced slumber until the world is safe enough for them to emerge. Every few months, a pair of technicians—sleeping right beside them—awake for two hours to perform upkeep on the lab and check the scientists’ vitals. Only, this time, something goes horribly wrong, and with air running out, the techs must figure out how to fix their broken sleep chambers.

Fan-favorite actors Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead’s Daryl) and Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Guardians of the Galaxy) star as Bauer and Cartwright, respectively, the two techs charged with caring for the world’s best and brightest, but not even they can keep this story interesting for its entire 95-minute runtime. More of a play on film than the sci-fi adventure it’s set up to be, Air is an essentially single-location, dialogue-heavy production that, when you distill it, isn’t about the end of the world at all. It’s about Bauer and Cartwright’s relationship, one that goes through multiple ups and downs as the duo fights for air in their unwelcoming bunker. The chemistry between the two actors never fully clicks, which is ultimately the essential ingredient for this film’s success. They mumble through their lines, performing their technical tasks along the way, tasks we don’t really need to understand (which is good, because we don’t really care).

Christian Cantamessa—who directed and co-wrote the script with Chris Pasetto—tried veering off the beaten path, establishing an Armageddon scenario, but scaling it way back to just a room with two dudes talking in it. It’s laudable, but the end result isn’t really worth a viewer’s time. Chalk it up to a rookie outing if you like—aside from a few short films, the bulk of Cantamessa’s credits to date are for writing and/or directing video games like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Red Dead Redemption, and Manhunt—but this wasn’t purely a Cantamessa venture. The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman produced Air, ostensibly guiding the film from pre-production to the screen. Was the script more engaging than the end product? Was something lost in the direction? Air could have been a really great concept piece (like Duncan Jones’ 2009 Moon), yet somewhere along the way it got muddled down by its own ideas—or lack of them—and the end product is no fresh breath at all.

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Author rating: 3/10

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