In the future world, a physicist's experiment to harness unlimited energy goes wrong. Chased by drones and soldiers, Will Porter must race through an imploding world and retrieve the Redivider box to save his family — and all of humanity! Starring Dan Stevens (TV's "Downton Abby," Legion, Beauty and the Beast), Bérénice Marlohe (Skyfall, TV's "Twin Peaks), and Charity Wakefield (TV's "Wolf Hall" and "Doctor Who").
One of most popular gaming genres is the first-person shooter genre (or FPS), so it makes sense that filmmakers would want to bring that same feel to the big screen. Films like Hardcore Henry have done this to great success. Kill Switch (also known as Redivider) is a film that chooses to merge sci-fi with first person point of view action.
We start off in third person perspective, in an undisclosed future where an alternate Earth, or echo earth, has been discovered. As a culture, we seem not to have learned our lesson because an energy company called Alterplex has built a tower to harness the energy found on the echo earth and use it as a source of unlimited energy. It is said that the echo earth is uninhabited, but we all know the truth. It is inhabited and, surprise, they also have a tower built to do the same thing to our planet. However, the other tower is interfering with our planet, causing disturbances all around the world. An ex NASA pilot, Will Porter (Dan Stevens), has been contracted to travel to echo earth and use a device called the "redivider" to short out their tower and stabilize the energy on our planet.
Despite his recent popularity, I have always found Stevens to be a pretty stiff actor, and in these introductory scenes, he doesn’t exactly prove me wrong. But once he is on echo earth, we enter first person point of view and from that point on, it is a stunt man with Stevens doing a voice over, and a poor one at that. In fact, it is here where my problems with Kill Switch come into play. Everyone on our Earth is actually on the echo earth also, and Stevens’ voice over is so poor that the interactions between these characters are distractingly bad at times. Also, everything in first person feels like a bad video game played on easy mode. For someone who has never fired a gun before, it comes way too easy for Will, and he becomes a bona fide bad ass just because the plot demands it of him.
The action here is also very bland, uninspired, and intercut with flashbacks to Will’s personal life back home. It literally strips away any adrenaline that should be associated with Will’s journey to the tower. Hardcore Henry had a relentless energy which Kill Switch wants to emulate, but unfortunately, is the exact ingredient that is sorely lacking. What we are left with is a film that is literally stripped of momentum. Kill Switch has an interesting premise, but ultimately feels like watching your friend play a boring as hell video game that even he isn’t interested in.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Lionsgate brings Kill Switch to Blu-ray with a standard slip cover to hard cover packaging with some pretty sweet cover art. Enclosed is a BD-50 Blu-ray with a Digital HD download. Lionsgate is known for its many trailers before the main menu and this is no different. But they are all skippable, leading to a main menu that allows us to navigate from there.
Kill Switch drains the energy from your television with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer that, presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, has more merit than you would believe at first glance. Production quality is surprisingly high, and is the only thing keeping this film from feeling like a straight to SyFy special. CG is heavy, and represented expertly, giving it the weight and heft needed to create this alternate world.
Clarity and detail are also what you would expect from a film that is clearly emulating video game graphics, as slick and smooth as anything you would see on any FPS out there. Now, most first-person films have a shaky cam that makes me feel a bit queasy. But luckily, with the toned-down action on display here, even that wasn’t an issue. I would say for a smaller production like this was, this transfer fares quite well and even elevates the material from time to time.
Kill Switch comes to life on Blu-ray with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that pushes the boundaries of its meager budget. Front, surround, and LFE channels pound during action scenes, giving the mix a sense of presence that the film itself sorely lacks. Quieter and calmer scenes have excellent speaker separation, especially in first person point of view. High, mid, and low tones all come across well here, along with vocal levels. This track proves you don’t need a blockbuster budget to build an immersive audio mix; all you need is the know-how and a little TLC, which is what I love about sound mixing. This isn’t a reference quality mix, but it is a mix that, like the video quality, elevates the material.
Audio Commentary with Tim Smite – A by the book's commentary where he talks about his experience as a first-time director and working with an up and coming star like Stevens. It also becomes apparent that his interests lie much more with the visual effects rather than storytelling and passing.
The Visual Effects: Inside the Directors Process (HD 5min) - A far too short featurette that allows the director to show us production stills he had drawn, along with a short description of his creative process when it came to the visuals.
Kill Switch desperately wants to be a video game inspired film along the lines of Hardcore Henry. But there is a huge, glaring problem here: that film had an insane flow, and momentum similar to a game I’d always love to play. Kill Switch feels like I am watching a friend play a dull, drab game with absolutely no momentum. Fortunately for Kill Switch, its video and audio quality bump it up a notch to being something that wouldn’t be too bad as a rental.