Derek Ting’s second film in his Agent series is all about show and tell, with a side of hide and seek.
Agent Revelation (or Agent II), Ting’s sequel to his 2017 film Agent Intelligence, picks up where the first film left off: Jim Yung (Ting) has found and partnered with Dr. Victoria Jansen (Carole Weyers), who is investigating why the red alien dust, now referred to as “ash,” hasn’t affected Jim in the same way it does with others, who become empty vessels for the alien consciousness. Jansen has no answers for Jim, nor for her as-yet unknown superior. Jim and ex-girlfriend and medical resident Angela Porter (Marikah Cunningham) recover from the deaths of their friends Seth and Lucy, who had been possessed by the aliens, and begin working in tandem with the researchers and soldiers at a secret training facility.
Jim, while seemingly having been exposed to the ash, isn’t mentally compromised, but he exhibits unexpected super strength and precision tactical abilities, something he is forced to prove the hard way to the military men and women with whom he is working. The “war games” Jim gets forced into have a unique, first-person shooter perspective while he is being tested.
The secret base of the Extra-Terrestrial Special Forces Unit (ESU), a privately-funded para-military research organization, is where we get to meet the person who has been bankrolling the outfit, the mysterious Alastair (Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Michael Dorn). Alastair reveals to Jim that the alien forces had been on Earth thousands of years ago, but had recently returned with nefarious plans for the planet. Sensing that something is different about Jim, Alastair sets out to train him to interact with the aliens, partially to ascertain their plans, but also to defend himself from the aliens.
Jim, under Alastair’s tutelage, undergoes physical and personal training to ready him for what comes next: the opening of his mind to memories that the aliens try to use against him. The unpleasant memories reveal much about Jim’s childhood and early life, disappointments, heartbreaks, and entanglements. Much like a corridor with endless doors, Jim is able to enter these memories, whether as torture by the aliens or eventually those of his own choosing, for the lessons they yield.
The memory corridor, while important to the plot of the movie, turns out to be the film’s weak point. It’s not always clear if we’re watching a true memory or a dream sequence, and at what point in the film’s timeline it is occurring. Whether this is due to plot or editing, it makes what should be an engaging and interesting film and makes it hard to follow at times.
Dorn as the mysterious Alastair provides gravitas to the film, and it’s fun to see some Star Trek references scattered throughout the film. (The computer’s name? Computer. And before a flight begins? “Engage!”) Alastair provides a much-needed mentor role to Jim, and his own revelations about why he chooses to fight against the aliens fills out some backstory. But in any multi-film franchise, any time you answer a question, yet another mystery will appear. In this case, the partial revelations provided by Alastair about Jim’s past as an adoptee with unknown parentage and his connection to the aliens bring about even more questions, which will have to be addressed in any future installment.
Another plus to the film is Kayla Ewell’s character Billy, the resident tech wizard of the ESU. Not only is it refreshing to see a female techie, but her humor adds some unexpected levity to the film. The special effects also work to the film’s advantage, with some futuristic weaponry and the menacing physical appearance of the aliens, whom we finally get to meet.
Agent Revelation is available for rental/purchase on Amazon Prime Video.
Cathy Kramer LaFrance (she/her)
A solid Gen Xer from the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Star Wars apologist. Eowyn stan. Unabashed Whovian. Bad b-movie lover, a la Svengoolie and MST3K. Music trivia nerd and record collector. Gluten free and proud of it.