Nostalgic 90s-tinged action seems to be the way to go for some types. It has its moments, sure – a point made all the more clear for some who’ve seen Brandon Slagle’s 2018 actioner, Escape From Ensenada.
I’ll have my own opinions on that film when I’ve seen it. In the meantime, he’s taking that same audience into the far reaches of space with Uncork’d Entertainment’s Crossbreed, instantly sharing his keenness on that 90s TV and film lore with the kind direct-to-video sci-fi that’ll have you sifting for your TV Guide to look up when Time Trax and Andromeda are coming on.
It’s 2060 when mankind is faced with a post-World War 3 America following an intergalactic fracas with an alien race known as the “sharak-ti”, and somehow, Vernon Wells has outlived the rest of us?
Anyway, we begin with dogfight in space with Wells in the role of Murphy, a mercenary hired to extract an alien crossbreed (Devanny Pinn) from a research facility hi-jacked by the “sharak-ti” when he finds himself ambushed. We then meet his former comrade, Ryker (Stink Fisher), the owner of a bar on a mining colony where he convenes with Defense Secretary Weathers (Daniel Baldwin).
Once informed of the incident, he later accepts the mission and starts assemblimg his five-man team with badasses aliases: R’Reon “Degenerate” (Jason McNeil), Alfonso “Four Eyes” (John T. Woods), Ray “Slaughterhouse”, and a newcomer dubbed simply as “Noob” (Brandyn T. Williams).
The mission begins as Ryker, a.k.a. “Boss” leads the charge to retrieve the mysterious alien lifeform from the people who nicked it from its previous vessel. What ensues on what was supposed to be a simple “snatch and extract” operation soon turns into an all-out fight for survival with guns ablaze, a courrpt government official in their wake, and the unstoppable lifeform killing any and all in her path.
It’s no mystery to the matter that the lifeform itself has feminine features, albeit deadly as she is with a tentacle that strikes at length and with fatal results. She’s also pretty sexy along with nearly every other female character in Slagle’s low-budget sci-fi love letter to you circa 1997 – and that’s worth something if your parents didn’t mind you watching your fair share of B-movie schlock; Most of us have grown up with those kinds of films which is why we’re desensitized to a lot of those tropes that wouldn’t pass muster much nowadays (i.e. nudity and the sexualization of women, the phallic symbolization of firearms, etc.)
That’s part of the template that Crossbreed sits on with exception to the only living, strong female character in actress Vivica A. Fox’s portrayal as Ellen Henrickson, President of the United States. That she’s an African American role is also a major selling point emphasized in the film’s initial PR.
Mu-Shaka Benson joins in as Miller, a man with an axe to grind and pockets to line for his own ends and by his own means and it’s not long before we start learning just what exactly that entails.
Crossbreed, for what it’s worth, has a few neat surprises, as well as fun moments shared among the principle cast. The chemistry and levity between Ryker’s team is exactly what you might expect from nearly any other “men on a mission” movie, particularly between Ryker and Ray, and R’Reon and Alfonso.
Williams is largely the butt of every joke when referred to but redeems himself plentily in the second act as the stakes are raised. The action isn’t anything special but if you love pulsating gun battles with “zapping” sound effects, a little gore to whet the appetite and watching Wells talk smack before snapping a guy’s neck, Crossbreed is right up your alley, and you can pre-order this movie ahead of its VoD release February 5.
It still bodes as worth mentioning this film isn’t for everyone, and it’s pretty cheap-looking in many areas – the visual effects are a given in that aspect along with set pieces straight from Babylon 5 and a Borg ship from Star Trek. That being said, Crossbreed defintiely isn’t the worst low-budget sci-fi you’ll see this year and chances are you’ve seen way worse (…I’m looking at you, Astro, and this is twice I’ve mentioned you in this aspect).
The halcyon days of action movies may be long gone, but folks like Slagle will be damned if that era itself doesn’t go down without an extended final fight into the millenia. He’s not alone, either, and so perhaps there’s a future for this kind of cinema if it’s treated right…in which case, I sincerely hope the Dustin Fergusons of the world stay in their lane, and anyone who’s seen my piece on Nemesis 5 will understand why.
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90s nostalgic cinema is not an easy vision to tap into. Not everyone can do it and not everyone should. Slagle, for the most part, has a handle on what he wants, and for any moviegoer from his generation, that's all we can ask for whether the result is good or bad.
- Good chemistry and decent performances conveyed with a vision of bygone cinema that many can appreciate.
- Low budget sci-fi is the bedrock on which this film teeters, leaving room the usual flaws that can affect how bad a film looks.