Cinema-Maniac: Incoming (2018)

Another day, another direct to video action movie, another Scott Adkin movie, and another dull experience. For me, one of the few things that can match watching a unfunny comedy movie is watching a dull action movie. Generally speaking action movies strive to deliver thrills to the viewers no matter how serious they can take themselves. A good action movie isn’t restricted by budget, and typically those behind the camera if capable can make something exciting out of very little. First time director Eric Zaragoza making his feature length directorial debut is not one of those individuals. Instead of coming up with ways to overcome his budgetary constraints he becomes a victim to them, although with everything negative surrounding the movie a good direction wouldn’t have been able to save it.

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More than half of those screens in the background are useless.

Incoming script is nonsensical, and so poorly conceived I’m convince whoever wrote this probably never finished school. Basically the premise is there’s a space prison created by a joint effort between several countries, three people (a doctor, a CIA Agent, a pilot) go onto that space prison for an inspection, and things go wrong when the prisoners take over. During the movie it’s very evident through the bad dialogue it’s trying to explain away lap in logics due to its obvious budget constraints. Kingsley (Lukas Loughran) the main man in charge in this space prison explains to everyone the lack of personnel to the viewers, the lack of proper equipment in emergencies if prisoners break out, and in another scene specifically mentions the fact if the cameras weren’t analog the people inspecting it would have known to bring a part to fix the cameras. When you get the gold mine that is “The Geneva Convention doesn’t apply in space” line that’s the highest peak the writing reaches. Throwing expository dialogue after expository dialogue without much of a break. None of this would be an issue if the way characters spoke weren’t so artificial.

The movie obviously tries to infuse comedy failing because the actors are uncharmastic to make the comedic lines work. Not helping matters are recurring jokes that weren’t funny the first time being used multiple times with even more diminishing returns. If you remove the performances you’ll still get face with the issues of characters regurgitating the same bits dialogue several times. There’s no need to explain to the viewer where specifically someone graduated in piloting a spacecraft, why the spaceships are automatic, and definitely do not need repeating the terrorists are bad. Further adding to that last part, the terrorists aren’t threatening so building them up, and pretending they’re a threat contrary to what is actually shown makes it worse.

Then there’s dangerous the terrorists group known as the Wolf Pack. One of the least creative name for any terrorist group I’ve seen in any action movie made even worse by the fact you’re meant to take it seriously. The villain, simply referred to as Alpha, has his top men captured, and torture in space. The keyword being top men, so you naturally would assume the heroes would have to struggle, and outsmart their enemies. That doesn’t happen since nearly every encounter the heroes come out on top without consequences. If the movie didn’t establish the six captured prisoners are the best members in the Wolf Pack it would have been easier to believe our heroes beating them at every turn.

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This hallway is in so much of the movie it deserves it’s own acting credit.

While I’m still on topic about the villains, the identity of Alpha is treated as a plot twist. Early in the movie it’s establish Kingsley has been trying to learn the identity of Alpha for five years. Half an hour later the identity of Alpha is revealed in a unintentionally funny manner. When CIA Agent Reiser (Scott Adkins) tells Kingsley people in high position knew one of the prisoners he was holding was Alpha for three, and a half years. The reason this information was withheld is because surveillance technology wasn’t developed enough to where politicians, and the government’s wanted it to be at. Further making you question if prison is supported by several countries you would think one of them would ensure something like an escape wouldn’t happen!

Having mentioned the fact this space prison is a creation by several nations I would imply it’s trying to make some kind of political statement. Although, saying that would be as inaccurate as claiming there’s an intelligent life form in Incoming. Anything related to politics within context has little ground to make a good statement. Simply bringing up The Geneva Convention, and not delving into it any further doesn’t equate to good commentary. So when head honcho Alpha eventually makes the “we’re dying for a great purpose” speech it feels out place. When you have a scene dedicated to how a character came up with the idea for deadly grenades made out of piss, but not touch on The Geneva Convention beyond torture is bad. Go back to your draft, make notes, and get your priorities straight.

Then we finally come to our heroes who are pretty stupid. There’s doctor Stone (Michelle Lehane) whom after hearing one sob story goes into a prisoner cell, and thus is reason the prisoners take over. Of course the prisoners wouldn’t have easily taken over the space prison if Kingsley, or anyone else that know about this prison bother hiring more personal. The dumbest thing in this movie is easily the fact you have a boardroom meeting scene of important people discussing how they should deal with the space prison having been taken over. This specifically is further exacerbated by the fact all the heroes involve signed a death clause that states the program (who really cares to be honest) will not take responsibility for their death, and implies they will take any measure to ensure the prisoners don’t escape. So why security doesn’t launch a missile as soon as they (whoever is in charge on Earth) learn it been taken over by prisoners makes no sense if it established some sort of death clause for its workers.

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In case you’ve forgotten, the Geneva Convention doesn’t apply in space! Now em kill all!

There’s plenty of other stupid things like Kingsley into the control room knowing full well it’s taken over the prisoners, and he’s outnumber. Can’t forget the villains not trying to lock, or barricade any doors to ensure no one enters. Finally, there’s Reiser who is the worst written character in the movie. He’s just a amalgamation of nonsense. His turn to being evil comes during the climax has no context for it. I was scratching my head at this evil turn since nothing about it made any sense. Trying to made sense of it would require more work than the three credited writers Nigel Thomas, Rick Benattar, and Jorge Saralegui gave to the screenplay.

Mentioned in the beginning this is a direct to video action movie starring Scott Adkins. A very reliable man in this field who regardless of what movie he’s in is able to elevate it through his presence. Unfortunately this movie misuses Adkins. If you want to see him deliver a good performance that won’t happen since he’s stuck in tough guy mode for the whole movie. Saying every line with anger in it to get across he’s serious. Unlike the rest of the actors, his character is the easiest to believe, and physically fits the role well. When it comes to his action scene he has to fight on everyone else’s level so no one will see his martial arts skills.

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That make up on McCusker (right) is pretty bad.

Oh right, the other actors who do surprisingly worse than Scott Adkins. Aaron McCusker in particular lacks the charisma to be a character worth cheering for, and his comedy relief is grating. He also lacks chemistry with Michelle Lehane who he shares many scenes with. Lehane can at least emote a little bit of emotion whereas McCusker cannot. The only other actor worth mentioning because I won’t bash him like everyone else is James MacCallum who just plays a desk worker. He’s charismatic in the very few scenes he’s in making me scratch my head he didn’t get more screen time. As for the villains they aren’t intimidating, nor do anything they say comes off as believable. I normally go into more details on the cast performances, but man, almost everyone did very poorly, and that best summarizes my thoughts of their acting in a nutshell.

In the entire film you’ll primarily see three sets; the control room, the hallway, and the prison cell room all of which are just a couple dozen feet away from each other. With the limited budget Incoming had is made very apparent the longer it goes on. Creating a fatigue in seeing the same sets being used for over an hour. There’s a evident absent of scale as everything gets reused. The poor set designs from a dark room with wobbly chairs and a bunch of TVs with CG LED monitors displaying sci-fi mumbo jumbo, to the cramp prison cells that all look a like, and a dirty hallway lack personality. Seeing these sets bring to mind that it’s a cheap movie instead of a hard sci-fi action flick.

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You know, looking at these stills, there’s so much to criticize.

Now we come to the action sequences which is bad as everything else. Since the one cramped hallway is used for a majority of the movie the action sequences don’t allow room for movement. Limiting what the fight choreography could resulting in the shaky cam, bad editing, and bad cinematography during these scenes. Adkins suffers the most from this since he’s unable to do his usual high flying kicks he’s known for. You’ll get a series of attacks, and retreat for the action which gets repetitive very quickly. Add on to the fact that Adkins easily fights his way through everyone you not only get bad action, but boredom along with them.

Early on in the movie you get to see Big Ben (Great Bell clock in London) getting blown up with a badly composited explosion over it while in the stock footage people don’t react to it. This makes an immediate bad impression which instead of being a single bad spot in the movie is a indicator for the entire product. Incoming is a dull action movie even by direct to video action movies standards. If you’re a Scott Adkins competitionist go for it, though it won’t offer the goods in any area. Otherwise, I recommend passing up on this whatever chance you get.

Rating: 1/10

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