“Panic” films have been with us as long as people have seen a quick buck in convincing people that a normal upcoming event is something to be feared and protected against (at a cost). Every big event – moon landing, Y2K, that ridiculous Mayan Calendar nonsense – has been surrounded by entertainments that imagine what would happen if it all went wrong. And so it goes with “Supercollider”, which ties into the final activation of the Large Hadron Collider.
It’s Robin Dunne! We think he’s great (although we didnt much care for “Space Milkshake” either), and call him “the Replacement Pacey”, because since actually having a recurring role in “Dawson’s Creek”, he’s subbed in for Joshua Jackson in two different sequels – “The Skulls 2” and “Cruel Intentions 2” (whichy, okay, was a prequel, and he’s not playing a similar character, so sue us). He’s Victor Susskind, and he’s ready to flip the switch on his supercollider, funded by billionaire Leo Tarsky (Enzo Cilenti, a welcome return to English-people-are-villains). His wife and daughter arrange to meet him later at a pee-wee football match; and he also gets an email from a colleague with an ominous warning in it.
Now, I need to break away from the review almost immediately. The friend of Susskind’s is killed in a large plaza by a mystery assailant with a poison-tipped umbrella. He’s standing on his own, so the guy prods him and walks away – as he does so, the scientist starts stumbling around and then drops. If I was walking away from someone as they very obviously were in serious medical need, I’d think it would be pretty suspicious if I just kept on walking – plus, all it would take would be for one person to film me on their phone, and my perfect plan would be screwed. If they cared so little about being found out, why not just shoot him?
Anyway, back to the action. There’s a mysterious problem with the collider, which explodes, and we see everyone within a few miles of the place die. Odd beginning for a film, you might think, until Susskind wakes up in a filthy apartment with his friend outside offering him a ride to work…there’s some alternate-universe shenanigans going on here.
Breaking away again, the Joshua Jackson-starring “Fringe” (which Dunne’s own TV series “Sanctuary” could be seen as the poor man’s version of – another link!) dealt with the man in an alternate universe problem brilliantly, by having him keep his mouth shut and try to work things out. Dunne wanders about, all “what’s going on? Where am I? What’s this?” which lands him a lot of suspicious looks and a trip to the local therapist. In this reality, his wife is an alcoholic, his daughter is dead and the world has gone to the dogs, so it’s not surprising he’d a bit confused (I suppose), but he really ought to play it cool a little.
When he finds his iPhone, and it appears to be from the other universe, to the extent of getting phone calls from his dead daughter on it, things get even more interesting, and the film then becomes him trying to dodge Leo Tarsky’s goons, figure out why there was a problem with the collider in the first place, save his wife, and hopefully restore the “real” universe. He mentions his own as the place where “at least the economy works”, which indicates either an extremely naive or fairly right-wing scriptwriter.
The first thing to say is, despite it not being an Asylum or SyFy Channel movie, it might as well be – there’s a small number of sets, Dunne is the only real name actor in the cast, and it’s safe to say they didn’t have tons of money to make this with. But they try and do interesting things with what they have – the dystopian alternate timeline looks suitably bleak, there’s a decent chase scene buried in there, and just the idea of it seems interesting in a sea of clones which would just stick in the one universe and have the father and daughter on opposite sides of the city, or something.
Without wanting to give this movie too much credit, it’s an interesting idea, and while there’ve been similar ideas before, this one feels like a fresh spin. The villain’s motivation seems a trifle over-the-top, but it’s not all that important in the grand scheme of things. If you can have a motivation be a MacGuffin, then that’s what this is. Dunne is excellent, as per usual, despite having to work with some pretty rough writing, and there’s not really any weak links in the acting stakes either. So, thumbs up for originality and cast, thumbs down for execution.
Rating: thumbs in the middle