Skylines Movie Review: An average addition to the trilogy, but not entirely unwatchable
Had the makers put a bit more thought into it, this end to the trilogy could have been so much better
The third and final instalment of the Skyline trilogy culminates with Skylines (also stylised as SKYLIN3S). This middling sequel to Beyond Skyline (2017) ensures that there’s not much added to the original premise in this alien-invasion story. And yet, despite a majority of its ordinary run, it isn’t altogether unwatchable. The action is on point and the narrative not as bad as it can often get in this genre of Sci-fi, whereas the execution and dialogue are a clear misfire. Better execution and believable performances could well have given the film more of an edge, but that was sadly not the case. Making Rose’s disappearance / subsequent re-capture intriguing and mysterious would have been the way to go early on, but alas!
Between the sequel and the beginning of this story, Rose has gone into hiding. Wracked by guilt because she had to sacrifice thousands of her own (due to an untimely pause) while battling the harvesting alien mothership, Armada, she no longer wants to play a part in any of it. But it doesn’t take long for the resistance leaders to find their not-entirely-human, superpower-wielding trump card, hiding in plain sight. All is well until pilots everywhere - former humans whose brains were harvested during the invasion who can harness the power of their old mind and consciousness despite their physical alien form – begin falling prey to an unknown virus. If left unchecked, they will turn on their fully human counterparts – beings they have co-existed with for many years. The resistance wants Rose’s help to lead a team into space, infiltrate the Armada, and retrieve an invaluable drive that holds a key to reversing the spread of the virus.
I think the biggest problem with a franchise like Skyline is that it needs a lot going for it to set itself apart. Considering the number of alien-invasion narratives out there, it needs either an exceptionally original premise or screenplay or great writing and acting. And if either or all of these aspects are average (as they are here), they get magnified because of the novelty factor at play, or a lack thereof. Such stories being marketed strike you as a mishmash of older films set in a similar milieu. And that isn’t really the film’s fault. It’s the narrowness of the subject matter being dealt with. There is only so much wiggle room one has. Aliens invade earth to harness something from the human race; sometimes it’s our minds, sometimes it’s our resources. And if they are denied in any way, a battle ensues. That’s 90 per cent of all films involving aliens for you. To create a science fiction masterpiece as Blade Runner or Blade Runner 2049 is such a rarity, and it shows.
Director – Liam O'Donnell
Cast – Lindsey Morgan, Jonathan Howard, Daniel Bernhardt, Rhona Mitra, James Cosmo, Alexander Siddig
Streaming On – Netflix
Skylines is not a terrible film, by any stretch. Sure, the writing, acting and dialogue ought to have been superior, but I could think of several worse films to sit through for two hours. As I mentioned earlier, they could have drawn out Rose’s re-capture a bit more instead of the lazy writing which ensured her being brought in without much of a fuss (wonder how she had avoided the resistance so far?). And why would they not delve a bit into the whereabouts of Mark Corley (Rose’s missing father and one of the founders of the resistance, from the previous instalment)? The part that is interesting (in both Skylines and Beyond Skyline) is that of the pilots, and how scientists have managed to restore these formerly converted humans to their original human personality (despite their outwardly alien appearance). A comprehensive exploration of protagonist, Rose, is also in order. We know that something surrounding her birth in the harvesting spaceship gave her strange powers, and in the words of Grant, “she aint exactly human.” Her DNA is also unique. The trilogy may well have fared better had they decided on paying greater attention to her character and story arc.
The film’s action is worthy, so too is the hand-to-hand combat witnessed in between scenes of guns blazing and Rose’s right-handed sorcery. If only the strategizing by the supposedly elite team were in the same league. They run amok as soon they enter enemy lines, which makes you wonder how they can even be described as expert military operatives. Even the ‘nothing is what it seems’ moment is so amateurishly handled (not to mention predictable) that it may elicit a chuckle or two.
While it has its pitfalls, Skylines is above the grade of unwatchable. It ought to have been better, but the same can be said of many others in the genre.