Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Objective (2008) Daniel Myrick

A strange radiation in the mountains of Afghanistan, taken for a new weapon of terrifying power, tracked by a CIA man and an unknowing squad. A journey into those dusty wilds, beset by danger both ordinary and unknown, blending science fiction and horror and steadily escalating. I'm not usually a huge fan of military type horror for one reason or another, but The Objective grabbed me almost immediately. For the mountains of Afghanistan are one of the cradles of civilisation, among the first tribe-lands of Man before the great spread across all this blue green marble, and thus of great anthropological and mythological significance. So we have the new, the focused and rational coming upon the very old and implacably weird, menacing but not evil, utterly alien, with the new confounded, one of my favourite kinds of genre thread. Good mileage in this manner from weird lights, colours and so forth in hi-tech scopes. And hints of New Age delusionals along Sitchin or von Daniken lines as the imagery steers toward the other-worldly but without the sprawl and structure that turns fascination into dull fantasy. Interesting imagery in general, nothing too spectacular but at times nicely different and even a wee bit of the red stuff. There could have been more, and at times they could have been just a little better rendered, still effective though. 

But as well as general interest in the plot, the character tension is better worked out than many such films. Simply, the subterfuge of the CIA lead is apparent from the outset, there's never any question of him being some traitor or scoundrel even if he does come off as somewhat unfeeling and unlikeable. His narration neither overloads the film with exposition or the obvious but actually makes him more enigmatic and interesting, his is a well worked out character and well essayed by newcomer Jonas Ball. And the squad, while a fairly nondescript bunch are serious, committed soldiers with none of the clich├ęd grunting jackassery or latent psychopathy that can taint these films with the crude and condescending. They could have been given more space to grow and be sympathetic, mounting events don't have quite the intensity that they might have done with a more developed set, but they work quite well all the same. 

Altogether this is good stuff for fans of the offbeat. Few fireworks and fewer explanations but thought provoking with an almost perfect ambiguous ending, I suspect quite a few will be put off but this is just my sort of thing and I expect others are out there.

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