DIVISION 19 (2017)
Division 19, the latest film from British director S.A. Halewood (Bigga Than Ben) starts with a voice lecturing the audience for being lazy and fat. For sitting staring at screens and consuming what “they” feed us. We’re told to stand up and walk away. I should have heeded that advice because this film is a mess.
It all starts well enough. In the near future, surveillance is constant. We’re told that living “off the grid” is a crime, (though we’re constantly running into folks doing it). Neilsen, (Alison Doody, A View To A Kill, We Still Kill The Old Way) is a prison exec who’s turned the jails into massively popular reality shows. The biggest star of this show is Hardin Jones (Jamie Draven).
Hardin’s little brother Nash (Will Rothhaar) is part of a group of hackers that have hacked the Federal Reserve, repeatedly disrupted the power grid, etc. They spring him from jail with a combination of hacking and the worst bunch of parkour Ninjas I’ve seen in ages. This is where it all goes to shit.
Division 19 is so unfocused that after setting all this up Nash and his buddies lose Hardin in the breakout. Find him just as a bunch of hobos are kicking his ass, only to slap him on the back and wish him good luck. That’s it. Until, of course, Nash is captured.
It does give us one of the most convincing dystopian settings I’ve seen in a film of any budget. Sadly it’s not due to the effects work. Division 19 was filmed in Detroit and they made maximum use of its ruined neighbourhoods. It looks so bad it’s not surprising when we see robots begging for spare change.
However, even that and a couple of good fight scenes can’t salvage Division 19. Characters walk into the plot just long enough to do what’s needed and then exit. Plot threads come and go. There are even sloppy mistakes such as Nielson telling security exec Charles (Linus Roache, Mandy) that 17 million people are watching, while the counter reads 82 million.
There are some interesting ideas in Division 19 but they’re never brought to fruition, and Hardin is just too bland to keep us interested on his own. This won a couple of awards on its festival run but I can’t imagine how or why.
Division 19 will be released by Uncork’d Entertainment in theatres and on demand on April 5. You can check for more info via its Facebook page.