I was intrigued by pretty much every aspect of Darkest Hour when it was released in the cinemas. And then when it was given a home release, the intrigue was still there.
It’s a bit strange then that it has taken me this long to finally get around to watching it and stranger still that given the choice, I have chosen some real rubbish to watch instead of it.
Finally though in my ‘darkest hour’ (the lights were off) I threw off the fear of distractions and dashed expectations and watched it all the way through, uninterrupted. And you know what? It was pretty good!
Set in Moscow, we follow two young American guys – Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) who just happen to be in Russia on a business trip when ‘the end of the world at the hands of weird aliens’ takes place.
They manage to survive the initial attack thanks to some good fortune and some companions that they meet along the way – fellow American Natalie (Olivia Thirlby), Australian Anne (Rachael Taylor) and Sean and Ben’s business arch nemesis and snake, Skyler (Joel Kinnaman).
The alien force is particularly tricky as the beings are shielded by electrical energy. This makes them invisible, able to vaporise humans instantaneously and, as a result of the first two things, pretty terrifying. And it’s this invisible, seemingly unstoppable foe that really draws the audience in. They eliminate much of the population of Moscow over night and this unlikely group of survivors seems to lack any of the skills or knowledge needed to find a way out of the situation.
The velocity of Darkest Hour propels the audience along, past the questions, occasional wobbly acting and the cheesy, easily foreseeable outcome. This takes it away – just – from other alien apocalypse films like Independence Day and War of the Worlds and plants its feet on the darker, sci-horror side of the fence (or should that be ‘galaxy’?).
The cast on the whole are strong, although the characters they portray are all rather simple and undistinguished.
Fortunately though, the viewer is far too occupied looking for distant clues of the approach of the evil invisi-aliens to care too much.
As you would expect, there are many adrenalin inducing action scenes to keep things exciting. The film is filled with combusting humans, blazing weapons and chases on stark, abandoned streets.
It’s the firm focus on these aspects and the avoidance of worthless, casual dialogue and throbbing romance that makes Darkest Hour feel more real and enjoyable.
I kind of wish that I hadn’t waited so long to watch it. Darkest Hour in the big screen and in 3D would have been pretty thrilling.
Regardless of its low age rating, it certainly grabs your attention and does a good job of not letting go.