Usually, when a film is pulled from a company’s release schedule, that isn’t a good omen. When those release plans were so low key you don’t even notice it until the film is slated to air as a “Netflix Original” doubly so, and that’s what happened to SPECTRAL. The surprising thing is, it’s actually a really good film.
US special forces sent to help put down a civil war in an Eastern European country start encountering ghostly beings, invisible to the naked eye but visible in their goggles and deadly either way.
Clyne (James Badge Dale), the inventor of the goggles is summoned to the front lines in a bid to figure out what what the creatures are and how to stop them. Sent out with a squad led by Capt. Sessions (Max Martini) and attached CIA operative Fran Madison (Emily Mortimer) they quickly find out that whatever they are, there’s lots of them and they’re more powerful than they thought.
SPECTRAL isn’t anything innovative plot wise as you can tell. It mixes bits of ALIENS, BLACKHAWK DOWN, and even GHOSTBUSTERS together to offer up a film that has it’s share of scares but works better as an action film. The action scenes are well shot, and really generate a sense of urgency and danger along with the action. Director Nic Mathieu was a director of commercials before making his feature debut here and it shows in his visual style. Despite some weak CGI in the aerial shots of the devastated city the film always looks good. And really the film should look good with effects by Weta Digital and weapons design by Weta Workshop.
On the down side, while it’s nice to see an engineer as hero, he gets a bit to MacGyverish rigging up mass amounts of weapons on a regular basis. And a couple of plot points are a little too blatantly lifted from other films, such as the squad finding a little girl surviving in a ruined factory, to be fair they do change it up by having her brother with her as well.
A fun film that’s certainly worth catching on NetFlix, SPECTRAL would have been a better choice to keep in the theatrical line up than some of the crap that did hit the big screen this year.