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Skylines (2020) Review

Having liked Beyond Skyline as much as I disliked the original Skyline I was looking forward to Skylines, or as it was originally announced, Skylin3s. But with great expectations comes risks. Could writer/director Liam O’Donnell recreate the wild mix of science fiction and martial arts action that made Beyond Skyline so enjoyable?

And where that film had a cast that featured the likes of Frank Grillo (Boss Level, The Punisher), Iko Uwais (The Raid, Fistful of Vengeance), and Antonio Fargas (Starsky and Hutch), the third film has a rather less stellar cast. Which could mean a lower budget, and the studio had less faith in this film. Or it thought the film didn’t need names to succeed, and the money could go to effects instead. A name cast certainly didn’t help Jiu Jitsu, did it?

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It’s fifteen years after the events of the last film. The human/alien hybrid Rose (Lindsey Morgan, The 100, Chastity Bites) destroyed the alien mothership. But to do so, she had to destroy one of Earth’s ships and kill thousands of her own troops. She dropped out of sight after that.

Now, a disease is ravaging the Pilots, human brains implanted into alien bodies, and reverting them to their former warlike ways. General Radford (Alexander Siddig, Gotham, 21 Bridges) has Rose found and brought in. It seems there is an antidote, but getting it involves sending a team into alien space, and they need her skills to pull it off.

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I shouldn’t have worried. After a slightly slow start that serves as a catch-up for those who haven’t seen the previous films, Skylines delivers the action. The ship is forced to crash-land on its target planet and the plot goes in the direction of Aliens meets Pitch Black as they try to achieve their objective and find a way home in twelve hours. And do it while fighting creatures that killed off the creatures they expected to face.

Skylines is a darker and more serious film than Beyond Skyline. It’s got plenty of conventional ass-kicking as Rose and her team, which includes Leon (Jonathan Howard, Trespassers, Godzilla: King of the Monsters), Owens (Daniel Bernhardt, John Wick, The Matrix Reloaded), and Rose’s adoptive brother who happens to be a Pilot, Trent (Jeremy Fitzgerald) try to save Earth. And that’s where much of the film’s focus lies. They run into plenty of things they weren’t expecting, including backstabbing humans and scheming aliens. There wasn’t any of that among the original’s heroics.

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But they fit in here and give provide Skylines with several surprises. Most importantly, they all lead to some kind of violent payoff, and with almost two hours to kill there’s plenty of time for them. Suffice to say it ends with a wild brawl in space while back on Earth Mitra gets to go all Sarah Connor on a horde of infected Pilots.

There’s also a subplot back on Earth involving Dr. Mal (Rhona Mitra, Hard Target 2, Doomsday) who may be onto a cure of her own. Grant (James Cosmo, Monochrome, Whisky Galore) is an ageing soldier trying to keep her alive long enough to do it. Watch for Yayan Ruhian (The Raid 2, John Wick 3) reprising his Beyond Skyline role in a cameo here, it’s the film’s one really outrageous scene.

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Apart from some obvious green screen and a couple of misfires, the effects are quite well done considering the film’s budget and the sheer number of them. I do wish they’d done more of the gore effects without CGI, but I’ll deal with that in return for the mass destruction we get towards the end.

Skylines is available now from Vertical Entertainment. You can check the film’s Facebook page for details.

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