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  Survivalist, The So Get Vaccinated
Year: 2021
Director: Jon Keeyes
Stars: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, John Malkovich, Jenna Leigh Green, Ruby Modine, Jon Orsini, Thaddeus Street, Simon Phillips, Charlie Sara, Obi Abili, Tom Pecinka, Lori Petty
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Covid-19 Delta variant is a mutation of the coronavirus that was expected, but what nobody expected was how badly it would get out of hand, growing ever more powerful and laying waste to the world's population so that only a few survivors remain. Survivors like Sarah (Ruby Modine) who along with her brother made a bid for freedom away from the camps the living had been rounded up to stay in, with the hope they would not become infected, though they did anyway, rendering such camps useless. They are trying to reach former FBI agent Ben (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) who stays on a farm nearby, but have reckoned without Aaron (John Malkovich) who is obsessed with the notion that Sarah carries immunity. Does she?

Malkovich apparently spent Lockdown making low budget action movies, quite a way away from the likes of Con Air, which either meant he liked to work and was taking any offer he could, regardless of the budget, or less helpfully this was all he was being offered full stop. Whichever, he had already made a movie with this director, Jon Keeyes, before embarking on this one, and neither were exactly welcomed with open arms, but there always seems to be a market for low budget action no matter where you are in the world, and The Survivalist fit the bill. Whether it would satisfy on its meagre resources - it more or less takes place in and around one farmhouse - was another matter, as there was a lot of padding here (flashbacks galore) that did not involve any kind of combat.

And combat was what the audience had signed up for, after all, so to shortchange them was perhaps not the wisest move. Keeyes appeared to be attempting to make the story as realistic as possible, though even at time of release the virus had not grown this bad as depicted here, so the gunfights largely consisted of the shooters missing their targets, and when the situation required hand to hand nobody had been hiding their martial arts skills under a bushell, it was as down and dirty as it could be. Well, maybe not that dirty, but there was some choking and clonking on the head in an act of desperation to get the opponent down and to stay down as Ben has to protect his farmhouse, and by extension Sarah (who really does not contribute until the last couple of minutes), in a style reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs of fifty years previous.

The Survivalist was nowhere near as controversial, nor as high profile, as that still-bothersome effort, and there were signs throughout the filmmakers were playing it safe, so while you had a smattering of bad language and the implications of Aaron wishing to use Sarah for breeding purposes "to save humanity", mostly what you had was waiting around for the predominantly under-scripted characters to have a go at one another and try to bump each other off. As Meyers was the hero, you could tell from the start that Ben was not going to exit the picture in the first five minutes, leaving the big question more how he was going to murder the attackers, if you could call that suspenseful. There was the influence of TV’s The Walking Dead to be seen here, no, there were no zombies, but the title was appealing to the sort of viewer who liked to see men pitted against bad guys at the end of civilisation where they could prove how capable they were in the face of oblivion. Even so, the twist halfway through left this all moot, as it seemed Earth's human population had been doomed from before this plot began. Listen for the radio presenter: heard, but not seen, it's nineties star Lori Petty.

[Signature Entertainment presents The Survivalist on Digital Platforms 11th October 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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