‘The Darkest Hour’ review: The lights go out in Moscow
‘Darkest Hour’ a dim bag of tricks
Moscow isn’t the friendliest of places even during the best of times. It’s not surprising, then, when everyone wants to leave about 20 minutes into “The Darkest Hour,” which is set in the famous Russian capital. That, however, may be caused by the arrival of murderous, invisible invading aliens bent on turning every living thing into dust. Or it may be the utterly lackluster film in which they star. It’s a toss-up.
With touches of “Independence Day,” “Transformers” and “28 Days Later,” director Chris Gorak (“Right at Your Door“) and screenwriter Jon Spaihts send two Internet entrepreneurs (Emile Hirsch and Max Minghella) to Moscow to finish a business deal involving an app that finds the hottest spots. When they learn that a Swedish opportunist (Joel Kinnaman) has stolen their idea, the boys start up the app and end up at a local bar with what must be the only other Americans in all of Russia (Olivia Thirlby and Rachael Taylor). There the four — and the thieving businessman — will remain as self-imposed prisoners while deadly glowing balls descend from the sky and destroy just about everything. Their mission: collect energy (or maybe conductible ore). It’s assumed, but never really explained.
Soon enough, the group ventures into the smoldering megacity, running into basic Russian stock characters — like the crazy inventor and the band of armed-to-the-teeth partisans — and additional core members, all the while losing members to the attacking force.
Speaking of, along with assaulting the audience with near-endless monochromatic slabs in a city renowned for its history, it’s insulting to have invisible aliens be the main culprits. It’s just lazy. Yeah, seeing people disintegrate the first couple of times was cool, but that trick got old. And if you’re going to tease us with nothing but sinister balls of light for an hour, you’d better have one amazing reveal to shatter our tedium. Spoiler alert: There is no amazing reveal to shatter your tedium.
But hey, if you like good-looking people running in circles while gold shimmering auras lurk in the distance, here’s your movie. Otherwise, go rent “Independence Day.”
One wave-energy star out of five.