OPTION ZERO Spotlights The Moral Quandry Of Heroism With Pulsating Action And Drama (Reprint)
We last learned that director R.L. Scott has been in the making for his most recent efforts on superhero thriller, Lazarus, which is one of at least two titles made known to us. He hasn’t been on social media since last summer and we haven’t heard much thereafter so it’s safe to say he might have a lot on his plate for his independent endeavors.
Going forward however, we can at least share some progress being made on at least one other project we reported on back in 2014 which was initially designated as the pilot of a hopeful series. Per the nature of most non-mainstream projects left shelved or incomplete or falling by the wayside, Option Zero was in danger of almost never seeing the light of day until co-star and creator, executive producer Eliver Ling took the post-production reigns in late 2017.
Hence, while the wait continues for a more public screening, Option Zero currently exists in shortfilm form and for the most part as the summer festival circuit approaches, we can now breathe a sigh of relief for its completion. A new trailer and promotional run may be forthcoming although what remains to be seen apart from a release is if whether or not a larger concept will manifest.
For this, it’s reasonable to believe this as possible. Ling’s script touches on an idea rooted in value and worthy of expansion in the ways viewers have seen on prolific shows like Strike Back and Banshee. The added fanfare of watching cast members Christian Howard and Amy Johnston in action is a certain plus that amplifies the dramatic caliber founded in its cast led by Chris Conrad who plays Trevor, the commanding officer of the titular clandestined special ops unit, and Adolfo Quiniones who serves as its field director, Lionel.
Co-star Adamo Palladino in the role of the ruthless, cold and authoritative Cyrus, takes point in setting the stage for the narrative’s exposition as we are introduced to our protagonists in the wake of the arrival of Victor Federov (Jacob Witkin), an elusive Russian mafia boss whose trades in multiple counts of crime and terror have all but called for a complete, indiscriminate purge of his organization. Other members of the unit it next to Cyrus and Trevor are Ling who plays Connor and Johnston as the understanding and determined Kara, as well as Howard as the ambivalent Nate whose accord with their mission is not without concern for the very possible details and nuances that aren’t being made known given the nature of governmental secrecy.
Option Zero deals in a healthy staging of spectacular action and drama that hinges even more on internal conflict and upheaval when the mission is ago our five-member team ensues the bodycount. Innocent lives and enemies hidden in plain sight are the mines readying the explosive twists that emerge later pitting members against each other nearing close calls of insubordination as if certain death weren’t enough.
Alfred Hsing, a versatile stuntman primed with an international career next to the likes of Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Steven Spielberg, serves as action director, making more than sufficient use of our cast, including Ling, Howard and Johnston. Stylish gun battles kick-off the roaring finale with fight action that intensifies between the various revelations and clashes that incur from the first floor of the raid and upward with Scott also dealing in the cinematography.
Quiñones, long since the days of wrecking the dance floor as a prolific headlining dancer and actor for film and television in the 1980s, turns in a solid performance that bookends the dramatic caliber brought by a fine cast and a script that exhibits a multi-dimensional view of what heroism is in the name of government service. In its thirty-two minute duration, while Option Zero may not be what the average old guard producer seeks, makes an outstanding case for why that should change.
Scott has been directing movies for up to a decade as of this article and my intial introduction to his work was the most recent release of crime thriller, Call Me King starring Amin Joseph and Shaun Mixon. It stands as an exemplary view of what is possible with a good director behind the lens joined by a loyal and well-versed team of creatives and performers that know and speak the language of action and can translate it through quality storytelling.
That level of consistency and work ethic otherwise continues with Option Zero setting up a more than feasible argument for the kind of profusion that independent action cinema deserves. Production banner Rihsing Studios further played an integral role in applying the necessary finishing touches to the project and going forward, stands plenty to gain from Option Zero in its handing to the festival and markets later this year with all the hopes of either seeing this concept grow its potential, or that of its respective talents on either side of the lens.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.
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