That’s not to say it’s actually good.
Just…that it surprises one who was expecting it to be a lot worse. But the actors (with the exception of Bruce Willis, who isn’t particularly happy about having to work for this particular paycheck) aren’t having to deal with dialogue that is completely cringily insane, and even manage to sell some fairly decent scifi exposition. They’re mainly character actors, with character-actor type faces, and when they get their chance a close-up, they’re good at it. And then you’ve got stuff like Frank Grillo rolling up to a firefight on a spacebase in a pickup truck, which is all kinds of unintentionally awesome and a wrench wench who is rather suspiciously fond of her motorcycle nevertheless being excellent at nervously-selling some technobabble to some other characters who are not really reassured.
Unfortunately, there is a point at which the concept of a semi-intelligent sci-fi First Contact And It’s Not Positive, What Do We Do (pssst the answer is genocide)?-movie (which had the makings of a good movie!) gets buried under a low-budget generic action movie which, well, the best I can say about it is that it did try, it just also didn’t succeed.
And, yeah, the alien-zombie infectees escape quarantine and kill their military guards, on a military base, with suspicious ease but the resultant firefight is actually quite well-done, including one character-based scene that would have been a genuine punch to the gut if there had been a little more setup for it. (In fact, that previous sentence kind of sums up the entire movie. If there had been a little bit better writing and a little bit more time to set things up it could have really, genuinely connected. Alas.)
Anyway, the titular Cosmic Sin is actually rather nicely explained as the peacenik doctor lady’s term for what humanity is going to have to do to survive first contact, which is completely destroy the other side or at least annihilate their capacity for harm. Something called a Q-bomb is going to be involved. (Bruce Willis’ character apparently lost his rank and pension because he dropped a Q-bomb on some planet that, in hindsight, shouldn’t have been.) General Grillo decides that he is going to sin cosmically without waiting for official orders. (Which is a usually a huge no-no in the context of genocide but never mind.)
It might also be mentioned that at this point, in-story, four hours have passed since the actual first contact and fifty-three humans have been killed, and also the humans don’t actually know where the aliens’ home planet is. On the other hand, the aliens probably do know where Earth is.
So our heroes snickersnack themselves into armor/suits which actually look a lot less impressive than the costume designer probably thought they did, because they only cover the ribcage and forearms and they’re very bulky in those areas without seeming to provide any kind of benefit or support to the wearers. The team appears to be: Grillo, Willis, Peacenik Doctor, Grillo’s weedy nephew who demands in, two other miscellaneous guys, and Wrench Wench who gets drafted to handle the Q-bomb.
Apparently traveling to wherever they’re going doesn’t require a ship, just a spinny glowy thing and a platform. (“It’s just quantum displacement, it’s not…rocket science…”) Hah, lol.
And again, there are little touches that show me that someone at least wanted this movie to be a decent movie and thought about the actual characters, and thought about the actual setting. Willis and Peacenik Doctor used to have a thing and discuss maybe having a thing later again if they get through this. Grillo and his sidekick have a quick discussion about the philosophy of war and looking after the kid if one of them dies…and then his sidekick has a discussion with Wrench Wench that isn’t halfway bad, either. (“Apparently the Aztecs were doing quite well before Cortez showed up.” “Uh…are we the Aztecs or are we Cortez?” “We’re about to find out.”)
So they jump through hyperspace to planet Ellora, thirteen light-years from Earth. There’s some sort of space battle going on above the planet, which we see none of and by the time the team lands it’s been split up. Now…see, this is where the film’s ambitions outran its budget….and abilities. It’s still trying and here and there it has a bright spark, but it’s nowhere near able to pull off what it wants to pull off.–not without a way higher budget and some much better writing and a lot more time to set things up.
Anyhow, Weedy Nephew and Wrench Wench (and Q-bomb) plus the quickly-injured Sidekick (weird, given that he’s the only actual veteran in the group), land together, get into a firefight, and then get rescued by some local humans….who are mostly civilians who have been trying to protect their own homes and planets. (One of them is wearing a baseball cap with a thin blue line patch. I call that quality costume design and I’m only being slightly sarcastic.) Although a new character, a woman with very large braids and moderately-large boob armor and what looks to my inexperienced eye to be an entire 50-cal machine gun with extra stuff glued on it, is introduced. She’s an enthusiastic fan of ex-General Willis, it turns out. (“Do they not know it takes a monster to kill a monster?”)
He, it turns out, has also survived and landed, but he’s got a concussion (his suit helpfully informs us and him) and is also surrounded by low-budget-costumed menacing figures. Actually, this next few set of scenes isn’t half bad if you take into consideration that Willis is concussed and therefore a little bit of trippiness then works, theoretically. However, since none of the movie has been from his perspective before, it’s a little offputting.
But then the away team returns to a refugee center where the injured guy was taken and General Willis ….does something to his suit, killing him quickly. (“He was gonna die anyway.”) They then all brood about this for a moment, as though one of our major characters has not just murdered another one. What the hell?
Meanwhile: the aliens have a giant spinny teleportation gate in orbit which they can use to bring their entire fleet through and thence to Earth. The heroes will have reach orbit in order to use the Q-bomb safely (or shoot the Q-bomb into the space gate). However, without the ability to shut the gate down after they throw the bomb through, they will end up dead as well. Okay, so this scene? Got the point across and did it without involving a single scientist in a lab coat explaining it to the heroes. You have got to give credit where credit is due.
Willis has a monologue here to Wrench Wench that is supposed to be touching and meaningful, but I keep getting distracted by the way his armored crop top keeps bumping his chin.
Meanwhile, Grillo makes contact. He’s up in orbit with a damaged suit. He…tells her to send the Q-bomb to him via the orbital cannon. I think. (I initially thought he asked to be mercy killed.) –and not to tell his nephew that he’s still alive.
So our heroes are….I’m not sure what the plan re the Q-bomb is, but in the meanwhile there’s thumping music and they’re planning to make a “killbox” and the braids girl is up on a water tower somewhere, and everyone else in hunkering down behind those fiberglass tank things everyone tries to make garden planters out of and Bruce Willis pops open a flare and strides down the middle of the aisle and then, OHHHHH SNAP the aliens got to the peacenik doctor and she’s zombified now. Whoops.
But anyway, the aliens speak through the former-doctor and, eh, turns out they also think preemptive genocide is a fair response to first contact. So, first contact resumes and the aliens are suddenly ninjas for some reason and the rest of this firefight is distractingly bad. But Willis grabs on to the outside of the alien vessel as it flies off. I guess that’s one way of getting into orbit. But if he’s trying to rescue Peacenik Doctor, he’s way too late. She/it faces him and says “We never wanted peace.” And then things get wonky.
Grillo, meanwhile, is still in orbit and trying to take control of….something? But it’s not letting him override.
Wrench Wench launches the Q-bomb at the glowy teleportation gate.
Grillo sends her the coordinates for his suit and tells her to fire directly at him. He’s going to use what fuel he has left as the catalyst to, I dunno, make the Q-bomb go boom. His weedy nephew, who overheard, has a moment and then puts his hand over Wrench Wench’s and is the one to pull the trigger. Heavy, man. And ohhh, okay, that was the catalyst boom that closes the teleportation gate so the rest of the human planet doesn’t get sucked into a black hole when the Q-bomb goes off on the other side.
Weedy Nephew then goes and starts stabbing the hell out of the surviving alien ninja power ranger to the accompaniment of….harmonica music?
We cut to seven days after first contact, with the remaining cast drinking their sorrows away in a bar, the Alliance Senate taking credit for the attack’s success and announcing a dramatic military expansion, and Bruce Willis, who somehow survived being up in orbit when all the explosions started going off, fades out into the night like an old soldier always does.
It’s not nearly as bad as anyone seems to think it is–and it has some aspirations of being great.
Rated: Hell, I’m a fan of all seven.