Greetings from the edge!
Today we’ll be looking at The Answer, a sci-fi, romantic, action, thriller. Will it thrill and romance us with its action-y sci-fi charms, or is four genres a bridge too far? The film stars Austin Hébert as Bridd Cole, our mysterious protagonist with seemingly superhuman abilities, and Alexis Carra as Charlotte Parker, the woman with a dark past pulled along in the wake of his fast unfolding story.
We open with the abduction of a young woman and the murder of her boyfriend, leading us into a scene of another woman giving birth while strapped to a bed and her newborn child being handed to David S. Lee, playing the Leader, who then murders the new mother with one of the antagonist’s distinctive dual-bladed Katar-like knives. From there we slip directly into the seemingly mundane life of Bridd Cole and his obvious infatuation with his co-worker, Charlotte Parker.
The movie begins to pick up after Bridd receives a package from his Mother, deceased for twenty years: a mysterious electronic device he cannot fathom. After saving Charlotte from an office accident, they go out, ending up at his apartment which has been tossed in search of the mysterious device and find their murdered employer among the ruins. At this point, they both become the targets of a faceless cabal of knife-wielding men with seemingly superhuman speed.
Now they must follow a path of clues in hopes of discovering why Bridd is special before the faceless men end their story forever.
I’ll take a moment to talk about the special effects of The Answer. There really aren’t many, or any worth mentioning; a few glowing eyes and camera effects to try and simulate enhanced speed; a few wound and blood effects that look like they came straight from a Party City costume section and a couple of digital effects used for computer screens and readouts. On one hand, I applaud the director for working within his limitations; on the other, perhaps a little more ambition could have livened up some of the very pedestrian action sequences.
We soon learn that Bridd is an alien/human hybrid and the faceless men hunting Bridd and Charlotte are the advanced guard of an alien colonization attempt. Strangely, while Bridd’s father seems to be able to communicate in perfect English in the recording he leaves, not a single other alien ever speaks intelligibly throughout the rest of the film. I think I understand the director’s thoughts in this regard: make the invaders more alien and inexplicable. However, in the end, it just means that most questions end up unanswered and the weight of the narrative has to be moved by Bridd, who makes several logical leaps in the form of some clunky exposition.
If anyone in The Answer deserves some much needed praise, it would be Alexis Carra, whose charisma and talent lightens her scenes. I would not at all be surprised if we see her again in the very near future, hopefully in a role that can make better use of her obvious energy and charm.
David S. Lee as the Leader brings some menace but, without any dialog, there is only so much that can be expected of him. He projects anger and coldness well but, unfortunately, his character ultimately just seems flat.
I would like to say that, following in the typical romantic formula, there is a third act breakup… and it has to be the most forced and hollow I’ve seen in many years. A casual exchange with Charlotte is enough to alienate Bridd and sends him off into the night in a huff. It doesn’t help develop either character and cynically just serves to get Bidd out of the way so some plot can happen with Charlotte.
The other particularly forced bit of expositional drama is when Bridd, who was raised in a Catholic orphanage, tells us he was adopted at age 10 only to be returned a week later after he showed a nigh superhuman aptitude for table tennis. Really, his adoptive parents were so freaked out that he beat his stepfather 11 games to 2, they disowned him!?! No thoughts like, “Hey, we’ve adopted a ping-pong prodigy! Honey, get me the directory, Bridd’s going to the Olympics!” Do you see where I’m going with this, folks?
Reluctantly, I have to say that The Answer leaves far too many questions, and I mean that literally if you’d care to take a look at the speculation corner. It feels very much in the vein of films like I Am Number Four and Jupiter Ascending, and that is not the kind of company you want your film keeping. Bridd seems flat and unlikable for the most part, and the aliens don’t seem very intimidating or intelligent. I have no idea how they could be a long term threat to humanity, at least not how they are operating during the film. In fact, they seem to have some kind of inability to properly focus their vision to use ranged weapons, which Bridd also suffers from. I can’t recommend this film, not as a romance ( although Alexis Carra does her best, ) not as a thriller, not as action, and certainly not as sci-fi. Give this one a pass, my friends. If you want a science fiction romance, try the 1980 film Somewhere In Time with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour.
Nerdy Speculation Corner: Warning, may contain both spoilers and dangerous amounts of geekery!
I wanted to put this in the speculation corner because it’s very spoiler-y. Okay, so Bridd is an alien/human hybrid and the invaders want his blood so they can genetically alter themselves to breath the Earth’s atmosphere. So what was the original plan? We see them abduct other women, so I’d assume they also have hybrid children who have all been stillborn as hinted at by Bridd’s father. So they have been doing this for at least 35 years at this point. No change of plans? No attempts to use genetic alteration on human women so their hybrid babies aren’t stillborn? So as far as we can tell, they abduct one woman at a time, impregnate her, and if her child is not a functional hybrid, they kill her. Does their spaceship have training wheels?
Nine months for each potential hybrid, multiple abducted women, the need for a constant hidden supply of some kind of supplemental atmosphere and an inability to effectively use ranged weapons. I don’t think super speed is going to be enough to tip the scales in favor of these particular invaders.
On a nitpicky note, when the aliens abduct Charlotte and scan her, they find that not only is she pregnant the very night she first has sex with Bridd ( which is not how that works, kids, ) but the fetus is well on its way developmentally. So either Charlotte is going to have a chestburster, or the writer needs to retake his Junior High health class.
Please join us next week when we’ll be taking a look at Alien: Reign of Man. Hmm, trying to fool us into thinking it’s part of a more popular bigger budgeted series and liberally splashed with bad CGI? We might be pleasantly surprised or regularly disappointed, but you can be sure that I’ll be down two more hours of my precious life… for you!