400 DAYS (2016) – REVIEW

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With their 400 day mission simulation nearing completion, four astronauts begin to feel that something is amiss.

You’ll see some really great films this year.  You’ll see some decent films, too, and unfortunately you’ll see some bad ones.  What you’re unlikely to see, though, is anything quite so blindingly ordinary as 400 Days – and I’m not even sure how much of an insult that is.  Matt Osterman’s Earth-set space movie in which a team of four astronauts are to train for a mission by spending 400 days in a bunker rigged up like a spaceship isn’t terrible, no, it’s just…there.  It’s a film that starts out interesting, with interesting elements, then just goes nowhere.  It just exists.

“How did you know we were on a ship?”.  Maybe, Brandon, it’s because you’re all wearing astronaut suits.  This sans-context line arrives about an hour into the film, and in a way sums everything wrong with it: the script is so frustratingly unpolished, so obsessed with being important that it forgets the fundamentals.  There’s no point in laying out a compelling premise only to muddle everything up with undeveloped plot strands and undefined character motives.  For example, why does the one guy who fights against opening the hatch early, to complete the mission by the books (Dane Cook), in the next scene argue against wearing their suits outside because it’s all a simulation?  Is he suddenly the one against doing the mission?  It doesn’t make any sense.

Neither does the fact that they would leave some crazy, rabid dude who somehow sneaked into the ship alone in a room without at least tying him up.

At least the one rather cool thing the movie does is shift somewhere in the middle from a tight, character-led, quasi-space movie to some kind of Fallout-inspired thriller – not unlike From Dusk Till Dawn – which brings with it an eerie atmosphere and something new to be interested in.  Unfortunately it only lasts a little while and soon we find ourselves re-emerged in those apathetic waters.  The script’s problems somehow don’t leave us aggravated; they just make us not care.

Verdict: 

An interesting premise poorly executed.  400 Days has good things in it; an eerie atmosphere and some decent performances, but it’s just far too bogged down in unorganised writing and an overall undeserved sense of importance.  It also seems to confuse indecisiveness for ambiguity.

Director: Matt Osterman; Screenwriter: Matt Osterman; Starring: Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Dane Cook, Ben Feldman, Tom Cavanagh; Running time: 91 minutes; Certification: 15

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