Review: Cosmic Sin (2021)

Directed by: Edward Drake. Starring: Bruce Willis, Frank Grillo, Brandon Thomas Lee. Runtime: 1h 28 min. Cosmic Sin was released in theatres, On Demand and Digital on March 12, 2021.

Set in the year 2524, where the galaxy is separated into three main colonies (Earth, Zafdie and Ellora), Cosmic Sins starts when a colonist makes first contact with a new alien civilization. Fearing the worst after the aliens make their way back to Earth as stowaways, a ragtag team of soldiers – including disgraced soldier James Ford (Bruce Willis) – go to the planet Ellora to stop an interstellar war before it starts.

Writer/director Edward Drake’s world building here is simplistic – it sets up the film’s world and the past 500 years of history in a 90-second recap – but complicated at the same time as we are not given enough depth into the world. The premise of them saving the world never truly makes sense and we’re asked to go along with it. As well, there are scenes in the third act that don’t really make sense in how they’re concluded, and I’m not sure if that coherence was lost in the editing or in the script stage.

The big pull of this film is Bruce Willis (teaming up with Drake again after 2019’s Breach). Willis plays a soldier nicknamed the Blood General, called this because he’s a disgraced soldier who dropped an atomic bomb on a Rebel Colony five years ago to stop a war. That’s why he’s on the ragtag team; he’s skilled in genocide and he’s leading this ride. (Ha!) Willis seems to be enjoying himself in the science fiction action scenes, but it’s admittedly hard to tell. In the expository scenes, however, it’s apparent he’s not giving it his all. It’s harder to become fully invested here because of that.

Willis is at least accompanied by Frank Grillo, though his role is not substantial. He has a bone to pick with Willis’ Ford that never gets picked. As well, Willis and Grillo are the names attached to the film but aren’t the leads. Brandon Thomas Lee as a soldier, the nephew of Grillo’s character, appears to be the lead as he goes about his soldier duties. As well, Adelaide Kane gets a lot of screen time as Fiona Ardene, a technician responsible for the Q Bomb they bring to Ellora.

Cosmic Sin pic
Brandon Thomas Lee, Bruce Willis, Corey Large and C.J. Perry in Cosmic Sin. (Credit: Saban Films.)

Cosmic Sin’s biggest problem is a lacklustre story that doesn’t focus on the interesting things. Let’s take the aliens’ visit to the military base, for instance. The aliens stowaway inside the colonists as parasites in a Trojan Horse alien zombie scenario. It’s a bit confusing, but this organized attack is where the film is exciting and has some energy. The threat is unfortunately taken care of quickly, but I definitely wanted more of it because this is when the film feels alive.

Obviously, it’s not that kind-of picture as a science fiction film, as the team then immediately space jumps to the Ellora colony, where the film’s worst VFX is shown as they travel through space on green screen. They get to Ellora where they meet another group of people led by C.J. Perry (WWE Wrestler Lana) as Sol Cantos. She lugs around this giant laser rifle the entire film that really makes the video game inspirations more apparent, too. The plot itself plays out like a video game, hopping from expository scenes to bursts of action. There are two other major action scenes (besides the good “zombie” sequence) that are exciting while watching the film, though you won’t remember these scenes later.

There’s nothing terribly memorable about the film; and there’s nothing I want to pan about it, but there’s nothing that makes it a must-watch, either. That’s why it’s directly down the middle as a sci-fi film that doesn’t try hard enough. That’s more disappointing as it has certain components of a decent sci-fi B-movie, but it never comes together well enough to merit a recommendation.

Score: 50/100

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