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Kill Switch (2017)

Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/22/2017

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/11/2017

We often think of movie and television actors as being different from everyday people. But, aside from the fact that they are on our screens, they are a lot like us in many ways. One such similarity is that just like us, they are presented with various opportunities in their careers and must make choices. While these choices are sometimes beyond their control, or can be influenced by agents and managers, I would like to think that the actors control their own destiny. When Dan Stevens character was written out of Downton Abbey in 2012, I don't know if that came directly from the producers or if Stevens had a say in that decision. What I do know is that since then, his roles have been very hit or miss, and I can't help but wonder if he laments having left the show. His latest entry, Kill Switch, is another miss.

Alterplex Energy has created a new energy source which will change the world, and they've asked pilot Will Porter (Dan Stevens) to join their team. As Will is not a scientist, he's not sure why he's being approached by Abigail Vos (Berenice Marlohe), but when he learns that he can bring along his sister (Charity Wakefield) and his nephew (Kasper van Groesen) (who is in need of some sort of medical care), he can't say no. Not long after the new mechanism is activated, Will's mission becomes clear -- the experiment involves a new frontier in technology and his fearlessness will be needed in order to make sure that everything works.

For decades, movies and video games were decidedly distinct forms or entertainment. But, as technology improved and games begin to incorporate realistic graphics and cut-scenes, they began to look more like movies. Similarly, movies took a cue from the successful world of video games and began to mimic their action. Recently, these worlds have been colliding more and more. This came to a head with 2015's Hardcore Henry, a movie which felt like a first-person shooter video game from the outset. With Kill Switch, the first few scenes are shot in traditional narrative style, but then the movie switches to a first-person style, which, as the title implies, kills everything.

You may have noticed that the above synopsis was somewhat vague. That was done intentionally in order to not give away any of the plot twists revealed in the second-half of the film. You see, Kill Switch actually contains some interesting ideas. While the script by Charlie Kindinger and Omid Nooshin may borrow some plot points from Doom (another video game connection), the mish-mash of concepts works well. However, there are two main problems which keep Kill Switch from succeeding. First of all, the movie can't decide how serious it wants to be. This could have been played as somewhat serious science-fiction, the kind which asks bigger questions about morality and ethics and makes the viewer think. Instead, these concepts remain in the background while we are presented with a pretty straight-forward action film. Well, straight-forward probably isn't the right term, as most of the film is very redundant, as Will is constantly fleeing from the drones which are pursuing him. And then we have the film's presentation. Just as the "found footage" approach has killed many a film, this first person view feels like a pure novelty and it takes away from the story. Not only is it nausea-inducing, one can help but assume that Dan Stevens is not actually the one performing these actions and that he just lent his voice to most of the movie.

Based on some of the things I'd seen about Kill Switch, it looked like a SyFy movie, but with Stevens involved, I had expected more. But, much like The Guest, we have another movie where we can't help but wonder what attracted him to this project. As it stands now, I don't think that Kill Switch is a very high profile film. Perhaps someone will purchase the rights to the story and do it right.

Kill Switch caps everything off with an unsatisfying ending on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the depth is notable, as the first person view, with Will's hands in the foreground, really adds to the perspective. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Say what you will about the overall quality of the movie, but it is action-packed and we get constant surround, stereo, and subwoofer effects. The bass effects pack a punch, and there is always something happening around Will, and these sounds fill the rear channels.

The Kill Switch Blu-ray Disc contains only two extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director TimSmiT. (Yes, that's how it's spelled in the credits.) "The Visual Effect: Inside the Director's Process" (5 minutes) has SmiT provide audio accompaniment to concept art for the machines, costumes, and locations.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long