BATTLE DRONE (2018)
Well, here’s a surprise. Not long after reviewing Atomic Eden, I find myself watching another film involving mercs, secret weapons, and Chernobyl. However, in stuntman-turned-director Mitch Gould’s (Hellbinders) film Battle Drone rather than gas-masked goons, they have to face off against an army of lethal androids.
We meet our team as they storm a party in Moscow. It’s being thrown by the world’s biggest arms dealer. They need to snatch the guest of honour, the Crown Prince of a fictional Middle Eastern country. Rekker (Louis Mandylor Astro, Avengement) leads his team, kills loads of people, including the caterer. Then they get out in a flurry of CGI, slow-motion footage and bad country music. They also slap the Prince around while he’s cuffed, just to show how tough they are.
Back home they’re looking to enjoy some downtime, but instead, arms dealer and uber patriot Karl Kess (Michael Paré, Mayday, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich) convinces them to go back into Russia. Chernobyl to be precise, and grab a massive cache of arms meant for some rebels. But when the team, plus CIA observer Hayes (Dominique Swain, Blood Craft, Rottentail) and her team, get there, all they find is a robotic army out to get them. Could it be a setup?
We’ve seen this plot going back at least to Bruno Mattei’s epic slice of Italian cheese Robowar in 1988. More recently, Kill Command did an excellent job with the same idea. Battle Drone adds nothing new to the genre and doesn’t add much in the way of entertainment value either. The team has the usual members, a hot female, Valkyrie (Natassia Malthe, Lake Placid), martial arts master Shiro (Dan Southworth, The Doorman, Blade of the 47 Ronin), Grigori the huge Russian (Oleg Taktarov, Predators, Dead Trigger), etc. The robots might as well be human soldiers. Our heroes rarely seem in any danger after the first couple of encounters.
The robots themselves are nicely designed. However, any chance of them looking menacing is ruined by the bad CGI used to bring them to life. Likewise, the constant overuse of slow motion ruins the film’s fight scenes. And for a film directed by a veteran stuntman, the chases and shootouts in Battle Drone aren’t very exciting.
Battle Drone could have been a fun action film with a science fiction twist. But the poor execution and some gaping plot holes, (apparently it’s no problem to sneak in and out of Russia unnoticed. It’s also no problem installing satellite dishes and broadcasting equipment in the middle of restricted areas), bring it down. It even ends with an attempt to make these guys the next A-Team. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen.
Battle Drone is available on DVD and to rent or buy on various streaming platforms. It’s also on Netflix for those with a subscription.