Kill Command was described to me as Dog Soldiers but with robots. Now I wouldn’t say it is a good as the former, but it definitely was mostly an entertaining watch. However, the characters do seem to lack that little spark that will make Kill Command stick in your mind as Dog Soldiers does.
Kill Command is set in the near future, where the economy and society are completely reliant on creating killer robots. Katherine Mills played by Vanessa Kirby, is a cyborg that works for the Harbinger Corporation. She discovers an anomaly that is affecting the machines stationed at an undisclosed military training island. She teams up with a group of soldiers who are sent to the island for a two-day training session. But as soon as they arrive, they are cut off from global or local communication networks. And although their first training exercise goes well, their sentry goes missing overnight. They soon find themselves in a battle for their lives.
You will definitely see some influences and similarities to other well-known sci-fi, especially Alien. It is easy to see the similarities between Mills and Bishop from Alien, but her role is more to assess and fix the robots. However, I did not find Kill Command to be particularly derivative, as you might expect from these comparisons.
However, one aspect that does not make it as captivating as Dog Soldiers or Alien, is that there is little in the way of character development. There are a few references to their lives and past, but they don’t go beyond that. With movies that become fan and critic favourites, having an emotional connection to the characters is paramount. With a survival movie, this is even more true. They are not cliché or two-dimensional, but they are not quite three-dimensional either. Kill Command would have been better served if they had given them all a bit more background.
There is clear animosity between Mills and Captain Damien Bukes (played by Thure Lindhardt) which could have been explored further. Clearly, the cyborgs and full humans coexist, but the fear and hate of the cyborgs are not fully explained. We also get very little background on how this society managed to develop to this state. It is not quite sure why men are pitted against machines in training exercises, rather than machines against machines operated by people. Kill Command, would have undoubtedly benefitted greatly from some well-crafted world-building to bolster its atmosphere, which is sadly lacking.
That is not to say that you would be fully focused on the action of which there is plenty to enjoy. Several of the deaths were quite shocking, that I exclaimed out loud when some of the characters died. However, it was only the initial surprise attacks that got me, it started to decline in quality after that. But I was also still very hopeful when they ended up being cornered in the facility. I love a bit of enclosed action, but for some reason, they decided to not use that isolated area to really ramp it up. The action in Kill Command is exciting for sure, but it is nothing that particularly noteworthy that you would be referencing later on in a conversation. At times, it feels a little bit like low-budget Michael Bay style, a lot of flash but no real punch to it to make it shine.
In terms of special effects, however, Kill Command does a fine job considering the budget was a lot smaller than what we would expect from these heavy CGI movies. The machines are truly terrifying to behold, resembling spider-like machines. Although the battles can be a bit rote at times, they are intense nevertheless. Obviously, there is little close combat between the opposing forces, which negates the necessity of close-ups of the machines. But when it is shown in the final scenes, the visuals are quite impressive and will give you a sense of nostalgia for older movies. However there are a few moments where it doesn’t look that polished, but it is very brief and something that can be overlooked for the rest of the impressive CGI employed throughout Kill Command.
The conclusion did end on a bang, we had a final juicy moment where it looked like all their efforts might have been for naught. They don’t hold back on the brutality that the machines can inflict, and they previously give a reason for why the machines hold back, so that was a nice touch. I only had one problem with it, which is probably a pet peeve of mine than anything else. They left it open for a potential sequel, which you will definitely see coming a mile away. Like a lot of issues with Kill Command, though it is not strictly derivative, it is not creative enough in its storytelling.
Kill Command, is a great action sci-fi that impresses with great CGI machines and explosive deaths. Unfortunately, it lacks the heart and the creativity of the greats that it is trying to emulate to make this a stand-out sci-fi.
Kill Command is currently streaming on Netflix.