The early days showed an optimistic air of promise as director Ranjeet Marwa emerged with an ambitious slate of projects that eventually took extended periods to develop into fruition. Less so with Exiled: The Chosen Ones as time passed, he remained steadfast having brought aboard U.K. actor and martial artist Mark Strange of Ip Man 4 fame with a lead role in the new revenge sci-fi action thriller, Rupture, a film which Marwa himself designated as a project that would finally cement him as a director to keep on the radar.
This endeavor encapsulates a vision set in the fictional BioShock City which immediately sees our protagonist, Raven (Mark Strange), chewing through nearly all of an apartment’s residents with nothing short of violent intentions. His choices here are preset by a series of events where a simple job soon lands him in a three-year stretch behind bars and his wife, Amanda, (Shally Amanda) increasingly frustrated with Raven’s incarceration while carrying his child and obtaining no support from so-called friends despite promises and assurances that were made.
Fast forward to the present day and with the help of his only friend and ally, Coby (Nisaro Karim), and a gun stored in his knapsack, Raven sets out to seek retribution against the very people who made their deals and essentially turned their backs. Something like this reads precisely as the kind of setup for an enticing film about vengeance and redemption, and written with a futuristic backdrop topped with overlays, prosthetics, and overlays fresh out of an early Kathryn Bigelow or Albert Pyun flick with a synthwave score that speaks ardently to 80s sci-fi allure and the kind of synergy you would innocently expect, that is…if this film were any good.
Indeed, some moments look nice on camera with select shots that are just fine, but there’s no escaping the lack of quality in sound, visual effects, and editing, with performances that are overwrought and unnerving with no real sense of tact in the craft. Strange can turn in a line or two, but he barely exudes anything other than displaying a brooding, angry grimace when interacting with characters. The only time this has any real positive effect is during a key dialogue scene with Amanda, who even in her audibly thick accent can exhibit just a little more depth as an actress before cutting away to Strange as the music takes a serious turn.
The addition of voice narrations from Strange, while in character, has little effect, if any, in discerning any meaning or substance to the film’s overall noir vibe. The same goes for the explicit fan service on the part of this film’s script, which proves to be even more cringe with each line read, particularly when having to hear the character of Sanford – played by James Bryhan in his lead up to next year’s Dig Me No Grave – try to top his own Castor Troy and Clarence Boddicker impressions. Interestingly enough, he turned in a more noteworthy performance in Exiled, and really, this shouldn’t be considered too complimentary considering that he shares way more screentime in a key support role and, like much of the cast, fails to compensate for the visible lack of any real chemistry between Strange and his co-stars.
Some of the film’s biggest fumbles thereafter lie with the action, with sequences that could have potentially been top-notch were it not for some questionable editing and shot choices, seemingly unpolished foley art, and holographic overlays that hold about as much purpose as some of the facial prosthetics we see on our characters. The lack of any real sound leaves plenty to be desired the moment Raven palm-blasts a nightclub security guard during a weapons check – a shameless nod to The Matrix when Neo and Trinity commence the lobby shoot out. In several scenes throughout the film, muzzle flashes are missing where guns are fired, as well as impact holes missing where guns are shot. Strange is also featured in two key separate fight scenes in the third act, firstly with stunt performer Chris Jones who I’ve been following off-and-on since his days with the Leeds-based SG Action. To the mindful eye, Jones can actually be seen on multiple occasions performing stunts in the film leading up to his standalone scene with Strange, and while he’s one of the more brilliant kickers I’ve seen in film, the fight scene doesn’t last that much longer than the second between Strange and Marwa’s fellow Exiled cohort Nick Khan, though the second one results in a more gratuitously violent finish.
In what was once intended to be a milestone for validity, we are handed a film which bodes as nothing short of a creative setback with Rupture, a film that unfortunately conveys the work of a director punching well above his weight. With dramatic performances and character relationships all hampered by a departure of cohesive and directorial substance and savviness and genre tropes that underwhelm more than not, Marwa is now two-for-two in his commercial feature resumè with this critic, sadly. Stick to Johnny Mnemonic, Strange Days and your usual list of greatest hits to whet your nostalgic appetite for 80s and 90s-era cyberpunk action, whereas Rupture, in a word or two, hardly crackles.
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.