in-between playing the role of the female Starbuck in the new update of
Battlestar Galactica, actress
Katee Sackhoff managed to find the time to appear in this low-budget
post-apocalyptic sci-fi actioner opposite straight-to-video stalwart Don
Wilson, or Don (“The Dragon”) Wilson as the video boxes always state.
If I were Sackoff I’d be afraid of being typecast. In The Last Sentinel
she finds herself battling a race of misanthropic robots hell-bent on
destroying the human race – sound familiar?
Anyway, this particular set of robot overlords were designed as urban
peacekeepers to take the place of the American police force when crime and
violence spiraled out of control. That they ultimately ran amuck should come
as no surprise because (a) that is what robots do in this sort of sci-fi
tale and (b) if you design your robots to look like fascist stormtroopers
straight out of Brazil and countless other
sci-fi flicks then you’re really asking for trouble you know.
Why exactly they become intent on destroying the entire human race is never
properly explained – it is a topic that is ripe for some pointed
Robocop-style satire. Maybe it would have been
a nice touch if the new robotic police force decided in a fit of circuitous
logic that since all humanity are capable of committing crimes that all
humanity are therefore guilty and should therefore be punished in advance.
Or something like that. (Something very similar to the defective logic
employed by Judge Death in the British
Judge Dredd comics
Speaking of which, The Last Sentinel employs a device taken straight
from an old 2000 A.D. comic book title named Rogue Trooper
(which was made into a computer game) namely a sentient, talking rifle; here
the rifle has a nagging female voice. It is a sign of the film’s lack of
storytelling capabilities that it takes the viewer a while to cotton onto
the fact that we are indeed dealing with a talking gun instead of just a
magically disembodied voice accompanying our rugged lone post-apocalyptic
survivor played by Wilson.
The screenplay leaves many issues (like this) vague and the plot lacks
clarity and focus in general and often one wishes that director Jesse
Johnson spent as much time on honing the screenplay that he did on staging
the film’s interminable action sequences.
Make no mistake, as far as these zero-budget efforts go, The Last
Sentinel boasts some impressive production values and the Black Hawk
Down inspired action sequences are well done. The sets and costumes are
impressive and even the bombastic symphonic score is welcome because one
usually has to deal with a droning electronic thump-a-thump score in this
sort of thing. Problem is that the action sequences seem to go on forever
without so much as a hint of tension or flow. Still, kudos to director
Johnson for effectively realizing a believable post-apocalyptic future-as-Full-Metal-Jacket-urban-
warfare scenario on what must have been a tiny budget.
Not that the screenplay doesn’t try: the viewer is actually treated to a
quote by the Buddha at some stage (how many action movies get round to being
philosophical?). However, Last Sentinel too slavishly follows the
Rambo / Soldier action movie template,
right down to the two protagonists duking it out in single-handed combat as
the film’s climactic scene. One scene in which Wilson swims in what
logically must be knee-high water also comes across as ridiculous.