The Last Sentinel [Blu-ray]

Actors: Don Wilson, Stephen Bauer, Keith David, Bokeem Woodbine, Nils Allen Stewart, Katee Sackhoff, Boo Boo Stewart
Director: Jesse Johnson
Format: Color, Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
Language: English
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: April 1, 2008
Run Time: 94 minutes



Somewhere 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 one supposes.)

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.



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