'Air': Film Review

Dean Buscher
"Air" today, gone tomorrow.

Norman Reedus and Djimon Hounsou star in this post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller co-produced by "Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman.

As if coping with a zombie apocalypse wasn't enough, actor Norman Reedus now has to deal with even more dire problems in Christian Cantamessa's sci-fi thriller. Here, the Walking Dead veteran plays one of two engineers assigned to keep society's few remaining survivors in a state of suspended animation. Co-starring Djimon Hounsou as the fellow caretaker of what's left of humanity, Air quickly feels claustrophobic.

Set in the near future, one in which cheesecake photos of Farrah Fawcett still hang on the walls, the low-budget, virtual two-hander film takes place entirely within the confines of a not terribly modernistic underground bunker naturally filled with low-ceilinged, pipe-filled corridors through which the characters endlessly scurry. Keeping the place in order are Cartwright (Hounsou) and his high-strung partner Bauer (Reedus) who wake up every six months for short shifts to regulate the pod-like containers housing the best and brightest of the survivors.

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It's a task filled with drudgery and danger, and Bauer, at least, is beginning to recognize the futility of their situation.

"F— 'em," he says at one point about the people left in their care.

Disaster strikes in the form of Bauer's own pod malfunctioning, resulting in a tense crisis in which the two men must figure out an alternate plan before their own oxygen supply runs out. Cartwright, too, is beginning to go a little buggy, engaging in long imaginary conversations with a beautiful woman (Sandrine Holt) with whom he has an unspecified connection.

Eventually the two men turn on each other, engaging in a lengthy cat-and-mouse game that even Bauer, as if anticipating the viewer's reaction, soon admits he's grown tired of. Boredom has long since settled in by the time gunplay is involved.

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Co-produced by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, the film struggles to provide enough twists and turns to fill out its padded running time. While the charismatic leads gamely attempt to provide some depth to their thinly drawn characters, their strenuous efforts are not enough to overcome the schematic aspects of the screenplay co-written by the director (whose previous credits include a video game and a short film entitled How I Survived the Zombie Apocalypse) and Chris Pasetto.

If an apocalypse ever does occur, one hopes that whatever survivors are left will have better material to draw from when they make the inevitable films about it.

Production: Automatik Entertainment, Circle of Confusion, Skybound Entertainment

Cast: Norman Reedus, Djimon Hounsou, Sandrine Holt

Director: Christian Cantamessa

Screenwriters: Christian Cantamessa, Chris Pasetto

Producers: Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, Chris Ferguson, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones

Executive producer: Bailey Conway

Director of photography: Norm Li

Production designer: Brian Kane

Editor: Greg Ng

Costume designer: Mila Franovic

Casting: Kara Eide, Kris Woznesensky

Rated PG-13, 95 min.