Video game movies have left such a poor taste in everyone’s mouth. No matter how popular the property being adapted, movies based off of video games have almost always been made with bad filmmaking, grim atmosphere, stupid writing, and boring delivery. While it’s one thing to make a bad adaptation of a video game, it’s a bit more disappointing to watch a video game movie that isn’t even based on a video game.
Kill Switch follows Will Porter (Dan Stevens), a pilot that moves to Holland to work for a private company planning a revolutionary source of energy. Not exactly green for the environment though, as the company has built a dimensional gate to a parallel universe and will siphon the energy from said universe. When something goes awry, Will is selected to jump between universes and see if the transition worked smoothly (SPOILER ALERT, it didn’t). Now in a barren alternate world, he races to find out if his sister and nephew are safe as the new world crumbles around him.
In all fairness, director Tim Smit does take something of a risk with Kill Switch by splitting the movie in two. It starts with flashbacks of the events leading up to Will jumping to the other universe and it’s shot like a standard movie. The rest of the movie that propels the plot is shot entirely in first person, with the audience seeing everything through Will’s eyes behind some type of special suit with an electronic interface that can take calls and control drones. An interesting way to make the movie more watchable, if only its execution was more exciting and took more risks. At least with Hardcore Henry, the other first-person video game movie not based on a video game, there were a few interesting action set pieces and a plot that kept piling on the crazy. Kill Switch on the other hand, is so bland and boring that it’s easy to lose interest in any element of the story. On top of that, Charlie Kindinger and Omid Nooshin’s story is about as original as the Kidz Bop kids doing covers of karaoke covers of hit songs from 2001. It not only rips off from other sci-fi lost world-type stories like 28 Days Later, Inception, and X-Men: Days of Future Past, but it even rips off recent popular video games. The plot of siphoning energy from an alternate world owes a thing or two from 2016’s Doom reboot, whereas the first-person hacker bit should bow before Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and while the movie has elements of paramilitary rogue trying to save a dying world from extinction, why not throw in Halo for the heck of it?
It’s a damn shame that this empty vessel is saddled onto an actor like Dan Stevens. Whether it’s as the frazzled, precocious telekinetic on FX’s Legion, the smoldering psychotic killer in The Guest, or even as the other half of the live-action Beauty and the Beast, Stevens has proven himself a capable leading man by combining natural charm with a hint of emotional scarring. He’s a grade A actor in a D- movie, completed wasted and given nothing to work with. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to put 75% of the camera in front of his face instead of on his face should be fired, flogged, rehired and then flogged again. Normally, this would require more discussion about the other actors involved in the film, but they’re so one note and entirely irrelevant that none of them are worth mentioning.
Kill Switch is essentially a cutscene from Halo that somehow stretches for 90 minutes, and you keep wanting to press the skip button to start playing. It’s unoriginal, bland, boring, and utterly devoid of inspiration. It feels like a cheap European cash grab on the possibility of interactive sci-fi that was merely slapped together instead of crafted. It’s so rare to see a movie so disinterested with itself, but maybe it’s groundbreaking in another dimension.