It’s encouraging to know that the big studios and Hollywood producers are keeping their ears to the ground and scouting for talent within indie productions. To pull off an ambitious sci-fi film on a limited budget requires diligence and resourcefulness – and has led to the likes of Gareth Edwards impressing with Monsters, to go on to helm Godzilla and now Star Wars: Rogue One. While Safety Not Guaranteed‘s Colin Trevorrow made the leap into the blockbuster with Jurassic World, and is soon to undertake a Star Wars endeavour of his own. Well, if Kill Command is anything to go by, there’s a strong chance Steven Gomez is a name you could be hearing a lot more of too.
Set in the near-future, we meet Captain Bukes (Thure Lindhardt) who is instructed to head over to an abandoned training facility with a group of soldiers, without any palpable explanation as to the reason of their trip. Accompanying the collective is Mills (Vanessa Kirby), a technologically advanced individual who makes up a human/machine hybrid; yet she remains as unaware of the purpose of this visit as any of the others – not that they believe her. Anticipating a new training regime to practise, instead what transpires is a tale of survival as the marines become the target of a savage, imposing collection of machines roaming this desolate landscape.
Kill Command revels in the notion of ambiguity, as the audience are fed as little information as the protagonists, with no idea why these supposed allies have turned on mankind. Mills’ involvement remains gloriously elusive, which makes for a riveting entry point, for we embody the character who seems to know nothing, though we’re never quite sure if that’s genuinely the case. In spite of the affectionate adhering to the tropes of the archetypal survival flick, Gomez grounds this tale with a pertinent study of our relationship with technology, scrutinising over the notion of machines taking jobs that once belonged to humans, and examining both the pros and cons that come with that. Of course we may be more flawed and error prone – but equally as adaptable, for a machine’s power if programmed incorrectly could amount to devastating consequences.
Where Gomez impresses most, however – and particularly so given the modest resources he had to work with – is the ability to create a world that is easy, and seamless to invest in, which can be the hardest task of all for filmmakers when trying their hand in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. But Kill Command has a strand of humanity running right the way through it, with a subtlety that makes for an accessible piece of cinema, and a truly promising debut for this first-time filmmaker.
You can watch the first 8 minutes of Kill Command here.