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Directed by Matthew Hope
Written by Matthew Hope
Starring Jack Bailey, Bahi Ghubril, Farhan Khan, Karen Admiraal
Produced by Steve Dann, Robert Henry Craft, Matthew Hope
You know, I caught this one just after the worst one-day drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average ever and I was never so compelled to go out and buy a couple camping hatchets.
So all is not well in the future world of The Vanguard—pretty much every dire prediction you ever heard on Glenn Beck actually comes to pass, and he’s probably sitting in an underground bunker laughing himself stupid while all this is going on. The last known oil fields are lost to global war (being run on what, precisely, biodiesel? hard to run a war without fuel), over-population somehow shot through the roof in seven years (I guess since people couldn’t drive anywhere they just had lots and lots of babies), food and water is scarce (food I can understand—no fuel, no tractors, suddenly farm yields buckle but what happened to the water? What, did the over-population boon suddenly make people forget how to work a shovel? Dig a well? Basic desalination from the oceans?). So it’s not surprising that with all this going on, anarchy prevails and we’re on the edge of a shiny new Dark Age.
Of course we are. And it only took seven years from right now to get there.
And just for the icing on the cake, somehow, a corporation (boo, Random Evil Corporate Whipping Boy!) has somehow managed to become more powerful than any government and operate itself from inside a fortified city that apparently has sufficient land mass to grow food. Uh…huh. And they’ve got a plan to start killing people and make things better again due to the reduced population. Well, when you’re more powerful than a government I guess the law really doesn’t apply to you any more.
Oh…and the cake has a cherry on top. The scientists tasked with making the drug to kill humanity in that corporate plan accidentally make a drug that turns people into Biosyns, a kind of flesh eating zombie.
Okay, so one thing is clear—The Vanguard is going to demand a whole lot out of you in terms of suspension of disbelief. The scenario posed by The Vanguard is so far-flung and so pronounced in so short a time that not even hardcore doomers can believe it, and that’s before we get the zombies involved.
And the outlandishness is not limited to the plot—it will continue on very nicely into the effects department as the fake blood budget for this movie clearly exceeds that of, say, certain small countries’ defense budgets. I’ve never seen a movie where ordinary camping hatchets are used with such bloody abandon.
On the down side, the outlandishness will further extend to the acting. Look for lots of overwrought shouting and scenery-chewing introspection from The Vanguard.
Sadly, that’s not the only down side. The Vanguard also has a serious problem figuring out what to do with the magnificent huge playground it’s built for itself and seems to want to spend most of its time running around the woods and hitting other little boys with sticks. Seriously—it’s not like you see much of this Corporation or its fortified city or anything like that. We’re too busy romping around the woods taking hatchets to each other. It was actually starting to get a little boring in spots there, except for the fact that it’d never take too long to come right back around to the beatings and the bludgeonings and the gunplay.
Though the ending hints at a sequel, The Vanguard doesn’t so much end as it does sort of clatter to a halt as though suddenly someone threw an anchor over the side.
The special features are limited to English subtitles, as well as trailers that are once again inaccessible from the DVD menu. I’m not sure why this is the case, it merely is.
All in all, it’s a fair effort from The Vanguard, but it seems to have forgotten the fundamental purpose of writing, “Show, don’t tell.” Indeed, they had plenty to tell, but precious little to show.
Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.
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