Cosmic Sin, 2021.
Co-written and directed by Edward Drake.
Starring Frank Grillo, Bruce Willis, Brandon Thomas Lee, C.J. Perry, Corey Large, Lochlyn Munro, Costas Mandylor, and Adelaide Kane.
Seven rogue soldiers launch a preemptive strike against a newly discovered alien civilisation in the hopes of ending an interstellar war before it starts.
Bruce Willis’ descent into the streamer action flick dungeon took a curious turn late last year when he appeared in the sci-fi thriller Breach, which while hardly a good film at least touted a smidge more imagination than most identikit actioners Willis has starred in as of late. And better yet, he actually stuck around for most of the movie.
Mere months later, Willis is back with another low-budget sci-fi offering, yet despite alluringly pairing him with the criminally underappreciated Frank Grillo – reunited from their rancid 2018 thriller Reprisal – the preposterously-monikered Cosmic Sin proves disappointingly forgettable.
The year is 2524. Humans have been colonising the outer planets for the last 400-ish years, when first contact with a race of alien apex predators forces humanity to launch Operation Cosmic Sin – a desperate Hail Mary mission to prevent all-out intergalactic war. Retired General James Ford (Willis) is dusted off with the promise of having his pension restored, to team up with General Eron Ryle (Frank Grillo) and a team of commandos who find themselves facing off against an unprecedented threat.
As perversely amusing as it is that Bruce Willis was convinced to wear a distinctly video game-y armoured suit for his latest paycheck gig, that’s sadly where the joy largely begins and ends here. It’s painfully clear throughout that Willis was only on-set for the bare minimum required to complete his contractual obligations; an establishing bar scene is filled with a suspicious number of shots where his face isn’t visible, or his bald head can only be seen from behind. It’s hilariously easy to spot the seams where the actor was ushered into frame to capture the necessary money shots before disappearing back to his trailer.
After actually showing up for almost the entirety of Breach it’s dispiriting that the supposed lead of the movie is missing for big chunks of it, all the more so given the scant 88-minute runtime. Willis feels like a passenger, often not even sharing the frame with his co-stars, most distressingly Grillo, from whom he spends a solid two-thirds of the film apart despite their teaming being the eminent appeal.
Grillo is at least a more enthusiastic player, bringing his easy grizzled charm to the table, even if he’s shockingly in the film less than Willis, disappearing for basically the whole second act. Other notable cast members include Saw’s Costas Mandylor as a beret-wearing, one-liner-dropping soldier who seems to be the only actor in on the joke, Entourage’s Perry Reeves as a scientist desperate to understand the aliens, Lochlyn Munro as a soldier who sticks around for a mere cup of coffee, and WWE superstar C.J. “Lana” Perry as a fellow merc.
Despite the appealing cast there’s precious little for the actors to latch on to in terms of plot, character, or action; the cardboard grunts routinely make highly questionable decisions, while dialogue is largely of the hackneyed, expository variety (take a shot every time you hear the word “tachyon” used to explain something). Quips, though, are at least so lousy they occasionally earn a groan-chuckle.
There are a few sporadic, not-terrible ideas – namely the existential terror of someone knowing they have an alien creature inside them – but numerous important scenes are directed with such flatness – especially a near-incoherent one set in a cave – that it’s tough to expect the audience to actually care about the world or the people within it.
All in all, Cosmic Sin‘s biggest crime isn’t that it’s a schlocky B-movie, but that it’s so staggeringly dull, overpopulated with snoozy talking at the expense of the bonkers sci-fi action you’d see in something like the latter two Skyline movies.
Like Breach – which was also penned by this film’s writer-director, Edward Drake – the production values aren’t embarrassing by any means. The visual effects are mostly acceptable for a sci-fi film on a budget, except for those brief sequences where actors’ faces have seemingly been digitally pasted into spacesuits, and an overblown ending where the VFX allowance has all-but dried up.
Yet as they so often do, the fatal problems come down to the script, which beyond obviously pandering to the schedule of its most prominent cast member does not a single thing likely to lodge itself in your brain for more than a few days after viewing.
Though relatively well-produced for low-budget sci-fi, Cosmic Sin is yet another lazy genre vehicle for a somnambulant Bruce Willis.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more film rambling.