Thursday, April 27, 2017

Low Expectations Carry The Day Again

Kill Command didn't let me down nearly as bad as Tank 432, because I didn't have nearly the expectations going in. I was just wanting to watch a standard sci-fi/action horror film (think Aliens), with a crew of military types struggling to survive in a situation where they're badly outclassed.

In this case, the squad is being sent on a training exercise to a facility owned by a company that produces automated robotic weapons. One of the weapons has gained is self-aware, and is supposed to learn and adapt, and has decided it wants some real soldiers to train against. And because the military is closely tied to it's defense contractors, it was remarkably easy to get a team sent there.

It's kind of fun to watch the soldiers wipe out the initial laughable forces put out for their "training", only to have the real threat then turn their tactics back around on them the next day. And arguing that it wants to see how they respond to an increasing threat, so it can learn and adapt from that, is a decent enough handwaving for why it doesn't simply kill them all the first time it has the upper hand.

Accompanying the team is a representative from the company, Mills, who has a chip thing which lets her connect with her companies' network and equipment (which includes most of the soldiers' guns), and also enables her to walk. I wasn't always clear on where she stood. She spends a lot of time insisting she doesn't know what's going on, but I was pretty sure she knew the robot became autonomous at the start of the film. But there's a scene, as the soldiers are destroying that first "test" of their tactics and abilities, where she encounters the robot, tries to access its network, and gets hacked herself. So I wasn't sure if she wasn't telling because the company didn't want her to, the robot had prevented her from doing so, or for reasons of her own. 'Cause she seems to have decided she cares about some of the soldiers, especially the sergeant, Drifter, but she's not being nearly as helpful as she could be.

There is a little something in a brief exchange between her and Captain Bueks, about what her goal was with this project, and why he is a soldier. It doesn't get expanded on much, nor does it really address how her goals might not matter much to the company she works for, which ultimately is going to have some say in what happens with this, but it was something. Low expectations!

At least a few of the soldiers lasted long enough for me to care about them. Naturally, most of the ones I cared about did not survive. I'm not saying they're extremely fleshed out characters, we're talking about the gruff captain who just wants to save his men and doesn't trust technology, or the sergeant who is cool under fire and a little more trusting, the rookie corporal who's kind of an idiot. But it's at least the bare minimum.

It does suffer from that thing where the enemies initially seem entirely resistant to the soldier's weapons, but the longer the film goes, the more of them the soldiers are able to take out, without upgrading their firepower. The main robot remains pretty overwhelmingly powerful, but the smaller ones it controls as firepower initially shrug off the Captain's rounds like they're nothing, but by the end, are being shot up by the dozen. They needed either to make them a little less tough at the start, or not throw so many of them out there for the big final battle.

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