High concept sci-fi horror drama is incredibly hard to pull it off. Get it right and you have another smash hit such as Alien on your hands. Get it wrong and, well, you have The Last Scout.
The premise is about as hackneyed as you can get. A small crew is travelling through space. Earth is dead thanks to a surprise nuclear apocalypse, and scout ships have been sent out, looking for humanity’s new home. After seven years of travel the crew of The Pegasus are almost near their planned home. Unfortunately, the content of an apparently derelict Chinese probe has other plans.
What is intended as an exciting and tense space thriller, exploring what happens when two civilisations clash for precious resources, instead has been turned into a movie that’s mostly about long-winded conversations, scenery chewing over-acting and a profound lack of direction. There’s an exploration into the loneliness of space and the loss of humanity caused by isolation, but this isn’t Silent Running or even Dark Star. The direction and performances lack the gravitas, and the script meanders.
Worse still, there are some attempts at humour run throughout the leaden dross. Any mood that may be building up is lost, and it’s not clear if the unfunny lines are meant to be humorous or if they’re just badly written and badly delivered lines. It feels as if, half way through production, they went for a ‘so bad it’s good’ vibe and landed squarely in the territory of bad.
On the other hand, director Simon Phillips does a lot with very, very little. The CGI is solid and used sparsely. The sets themselves, though clearly cheap, are effective and convey the misery and isolation that the movie requires. Unfortunately, the performances don’t.
The Last Scout is, alas, a bit of a lost cause. Leave the woggle at home and rewatch Silent Running instead.