DVD REVIEW: MANKIND’S LAST STAND / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JABBAR RAISANI / SCREENPLAY: BLAKE CLIFTON, JABBAR RAISANI / STARRING: ADRIAN PAUL, REILEY MCCLENDON, NIC RASENTI / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 20TH
Jabbar Raisani’s post-apocalyptic quasi-documentary is a beguiling fusion of fiction presented as truth, but it’s by no means perfect. Set in the near future of 2033, the film centres on a rag-tag group of soldiers in command of Outpost 37, the longest surviving outpost against alien invaders who waged war on Earth a decade ago. Since that time, several thousands of these creatures, dubbed the Heavies, were stranded on Earth by their leaders and continued the battle against the humans. A pair of documentary makers proceed to capture Outpost 37’s grizzly climax against the Heavies, as well as preserving the soldier’s hopes for the future, how they came to be at Outpost 37, and their darkest fears.
Throughout watching Mankind’s Last Stand, you tend to forget that this is, supposedly, presented as a documentary, as its fictional side constantly shoves its thinly veiled documentary style out of the way. However, that’s not to say this film is disjointed at all. It’s true that Mankind’s Last Stand isn’t entirely convincing as a documentary. The jittering, scrambled vision of the camera as it tries to avoid being ambushed by the Heavies look as if they were chucked in post-production, and the interviewer’s questions to the soldiers during the interviews feel unnatural.
But mock documentary making aside, Mankind’s Last Stand exudes an engrossing delicacy that makes it highly watchable. Its plot and characters may well be conventional, but that comes across as deliberate. Putting a gentle documentary spin on the age-old premise the film gives itself lends Mankind’s Last Stand a gentle level of powerful drama, rather than a sense of realism.
As mentioned, the film’s documentary leanings do lean to the point where they’re almost flat on the ground, leaving its ballsy sci-fi backdrop open for consideration. What’s curious then is how the plot’s recognisability is saved from being called a rip-off thanks to the film’s sprinklings of non-fiction presentation. They’re subtle rather than lazy, despite not being persuasively produced. The cast do their best in this strange set-up of a film, but one can’t help but feel as if these soldiers would be more at home in the Michael Bay film, Mankind’s Last Stand strives valiantly not to be instead of this fake documentary canvas they splurge their bullets on.
Arguably, Mankind’s Last Stand has it all – an adrenaline-charged plot and trigger-happy characters complete with explosions, cuss-spitting soldiers and chunky aliens produced in a weirdly charming manner. It has pace despite it speed, and grace coupled with its arse-kicking vulgarity. Its mixture of brutal sci-fi romp and occasional touches of documentary flavour turn Mankind’s Last Stand into a fairly unique piece of film-making. If kitchen-sink-drama extraordinaire Ken Loach had got his hands on Battle Los Angeles, the end result may well be Mankind’s Last Stand.