The future. A barren prison planet, somewhere in a remote galaxy.
spacepod has landed, containing West (Daryl Boling), an as-of-yet
unregistered convict, and Athena (Kathleen Kwan), the law enforcement
android delivering him, who will be gone by the next spaceship - which
only lands here once a month though.
The planet is a strange place,
mostly it's just wasteland populated by dangerous mutants, but behind a
forcefield, there is a small village in which the convicts move in
relative freedom, but they are controlled by their implants at the
back of their necks, which will severely punish them for every wrongdoing.
It's a fact however that the prison guards lead a life just as rotten as
the ones they are guarding, and they also carry implants, which are
supposed to make their lives easier.
The implants tend to be faulty
though, and they are mended by the dispenser, Babish (Jeffrey
Plunkett), who does a rather lazy job though and is an alcoholic on top of
that, so when it's found out that West also has dispenser skills, superior
to Babish's even, Babish is cast out into the wasteland (to certain death)
while West gets his job. When West mocks thrown out Babish, you get the
first idea that he might have some sinister agenda.
Warden Galloway (Jef
Betz) has a special task for West: There is a girl he loves, Maleyna
(Diana Ferrante), but she detests him - so maybe, West could recalibrate
her implant a little so she loves him back ... West agrees to do the dirty
job, but demands time.
While he is supposed to work on the girl, West
lures two more guys out into the wastelands to their certain doom, a
less-than-intelligent guard (Greg Oliver Bodine), and Luther (Jason
Howard), a fellow convict who actually was his friend. And it's revealed
that Athena is not really West's guard but his ally, and furthermore she
has fallen in love with him.
But why does West do all of this?
Luther and the guard all took part in the rape and killing of West's wife
and the killing of West's daughter, and they left West for dead as well
... only West didn't die and got plastic surgery so the others recognize
him no more. The ringleader of these guys though was (no surprise here)
here to open the Spoiler Pop-up!
Benjamin Thomas gives a
scene-stealing performance as the soft spoken and eloquent local marshal.
doomsday science fiction meets Western mainstays in the best possible way
in this low budget film. Basically the blend that has failed quite a few
times in the past works quite as well here because director Andrew
Bellware doesn't try too hard to create the perfect genre blender but
concentrates on telling his story with its busload of twists and turns,
doesn't really try to pay any direct hommage to either genre but on one
hand concentrates on elements that could work in both (like the
God-forsaken desert town and the whole vendetta plot), on the other just
does what's best for his story.
The outcome is quite a fascinating and
highly original, despite of all its futuristic trimmings archaic revenge
tale (also think ancient Greek tragedies here), that's also helped by a
very competent cast, atmospheric cinematography, and pretty impressive
spartanic sets and locations.