Claustrophobic S-F grind Air might well allure Walking Dead fans, as that show’s creator, Robert Kirkman, is a producer, and its Norman Reedus is one of the two leads, playing another troubled dude — an engineer, this time — trying to get by after the world may or may not have ended.
But the real star is Djimon Hounsou, also as an engineer, tasked like Reedus’s with keeping clean air circulating through the missile silo in which the last of humanity seems to be hiding out from some vague catastrophe. Both characters appear to be fighting off madness, with Hounsou’s embodied by an encouraging woman (Sandrine Holt) only he can see.
Eventually, as on Walking Dead, all the end-times mysteries develop into a meditation on the limits of humanity, which is the most charitable way of saying that there’s lots of scenes of dudes chasing each other with guns. Too many, of course, though Hounsou is compelling even in long, wordless passages of slogging his way through corrugated pipes. Walking Dead isn’t the model, here — it’s Lost, specifically the business involving that buried bunker with the outdated tech and the mystery button that must be mashed every time a Rolodex-style flip-clock counts down to zero.
All of that has been copy-pasted into Air, which, sadly, doesn’t even improve on Lost‘s resolutions. Eventually, all that director and co-writer Christian Cantamessa can come up with is to have Reedus hunt Hounsou, for some reason, with the low point being the moment when Reedus actually has to say that he’s tired of this game of cat-and-mouse. Who isn’t?
Directed by Christian Cantamessa
Opens August 14, Cinema Village
Available on demand