Defective is a 2018 sci-fi thriller about a near future where a man and his estranged sister are forced to flee from a militant police state after witnessing the dark secrets of a nefarious corporation.
What price, freedom? Is peace and stability dependent on the government, the populace, a mix of both, or will it take an outside influence to keep society purring along without incident? So asks many films in a tight genre that pose the question and usually follow it with ninety minutes of dystopian madness where the answer is pretty clear. So it is with Reese Eveneshen‘s Defective, a lowtech thriller with big ambitions that draws with wide lines its Big Brother gone wrong story yet delivers with terrific punch a well-made and often effective morality tale.
In an unnamed city in an unnamed North American country, the ‘state’ has implemented the world’s first complete police state, where a corporation called State Enforcement Authorities (S.E.A.) has taken over. They’ve populated every street corner in every city, town, and village, with ‘preservers of the peace’, human-cybernetic police androids who rule with absolute power, armed with guns and judicial authority à la Judge Dredd. Many have embraced the change, welcoming a society that is free of crime at the cost of infringements on freedom while others recognize the evisceration of their rights and take to fighting against it. Rhett Murphy (Colin Paradine), a former soldier on the side of the fight stumbles upon a troubling act of violence by the police and as such finds himself on the run along with his younger sister Jean (Raven Cousens), becoming fugitives of the state and in a fight to stay alive.
We’re treading on familiar ground here, Defective committed to some timed-tested themes that have proven successful before. Admittedly, the dynamic of an older brother and his estranged sister instead of potential love interests makes for a welcome twist, and their relationship is the best thing going. Paradine and Cousens are very convincing, even if the script keeps them on rails. She, even after witnessing some disturbing evidence that things might not be right, is sure that the S.E.A. is not nefarious and believes going on the run, at least initially, is not the right thing to do. Rhett is sort of messed up, savaged by a past that has left him dark and cynical, which considering where they end up, are good qualities. Joining them is Pierce (Dennis Andres), a radical anti-establishment warrior (with a secret) who takes to their side. While he’s an obvious Chris Pratt-clone, he’s definitely funny and adds some much needed humor.
While Eveneshen is limited by his budget, he manages to make the right choices, something many in his situation tend to make mistakes with, extending their sci-fi stories beyond the film’s capabilities. Here, the story is decidedly local, even as it reaches for broader horizons, keeping it focused on the siblings. The RoboCop-esque baddies are well-designed and genuinely believable and Eveneshen builds a distressing and authentic-feeling world they all mill about in. There are some very good ideas along the way and we even see conflict not just among the rebels but also within the S.E.A., including Ora Green (Ashley Armstrong), a company spokesperson who seems to have an agenda and a few personal issues of her own.
Much more a social commentary laid out in dialogue than an action thriller, there’s still plenty of beat ’em ups and shootouts, not too mention some bits of jarring horror, to give fans of the genre something worth a look. Far better than you might expect, Defective does a lot more right than not, making another strong case for why independent films, in the right hands, are what to watch. This is sci-fi stepping in the right direction.
Movie description: Defective is a 2018 sci-fi thriller about a near future where a man and his estranged sister are forced to flee from a militant police state after witnessing the dark secrets of a nefarious corporation.
Director(s): Reese Eveneshen
Actor(s): Colin Paradine, Raven Cousens, Ashley Armstrong
Genre: Sci-fi, Action