Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid) is the cynical owner of a remote diner in the middle of the Mojave Desert, where he has lived with his son Jeep (Lucas Black) since his ugly divorce. Jeep, who has a king-size crush on Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), the unmarried waitress who is 8 months pregnant to a long gone drifter, keeps having disturbing nightmares. The Andersons (Jon Tenney, Kate Walsh) and their teenage daughter Audrey (Willa Holland) are stranded, waiting for their car to be repaired and Kyle Williams (Tyrese Gibson) is a stranger lost on his way to a court hearing. Bob's employee Percy (Charles S. Dutton) keeps things running but everything changes when Michael (Paul Bettany), a tall stranger with a gun and heavenly connections appears. God has lost faith in mankind and dispatched the angels to begin the Apocalypse. Suddenly the diner is a battleground for the survival of the human race.
Review by Louise Keller:
Inane dialogue, a bad, derivative storyline and evil angels make up this overblown, poor-man's would-be Terminator in which an exploding upside-down crucified man is one of the low points. The frenetic music score is a bit like an over-revved car: the one that desperately wants attention and has no qualms about letting you know it is there. Why talented Paul Bettany got involved with this project about the end of the world, zombies and angels is anyone's guess, but in any event, there is little to recommend this tedious, heavy handed, unoriginal apocalyptic movie.
'Just cause it's the end of the world doesn't mean you've got to starve,' Dennis Quaid's Bob Hanson says after the television static begins, the phone goes dead, the lights go out and a little old lady with baby teeth wearing a pink cardigan walks on the ceiling. She is not the only one with serrated teeth: all the zombies who manifest themselves at the diner (aptly called Paradise Falls), are afflicted with the same. They violently shake their heads and contort like grasshoppers, too. One even drives through the desert in an icecream van.
After a soulful female voice-over which alerts us to the fact that the world will end when 'God got tired of all the bulls**t', the film's opening sequence (in the teeming rain in the pitch black of the night, when Paul Bettany's heavily tattooed Michael yields a knife, looks to the heavens before we hear a dog bark and a piercing scream), is a parallel to the Terminator's arrival to Earth. 'It's started,' Michael says.
Bettany manages the material as well as can be expected and the performances are mostly fine. Lucas Black's Jeep is the film's antihero: 'being lost is so close to being found,' Michael tells him, and I especially liked Charles S. Dutton as Percy, whose thankless role doesn't go anywhere, but he has a good presence. Dennis Quaid is not at his best as the man who has given up smoking and is running away from the world, but keeps his lighter on hand to remind himself how much he hates his ex-wife. Yes, there's a point to this. A fiery one. Just when you think the film couldn't get any worse, it does, and by the time the skies have exploded for the climactic sequences, it is with great relief that the credits roll.
First published in the Sun-Herald
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CAST: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki, Charles S. Dutton, Kevin Durand, Jon Tenney, Willa Holland, Kate Walsh, Dennis Quiad
PRODUCER: David Lancaster, Michael Litvak
DIRECTOR: Scott Charles Stewart
SCRIPT: Scott Charles Stewart, Peter Schink
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Lindley
EDITOR: Steven Kemper
MUSIC: John Frizzell
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeff Higginbotham
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 3, 2010
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.