Sirona (2023) Review
You can’t say Wesley Clark isn’t ambitious. Sirona is not just his first feature film but his only IMDB credit, and he’s taken on the roles of writer, director, and co-star. Along with that, he’s taken on the challenge of making an X-Men type of film on a less than blockbuster budget, something that rarely turns out well.
Sirona (Ashlynn Hideman, Deadly Promises, My Amish World) and her brother have escaped from a government Black Site known as Valkyrie. Their absence hasn’t gone unnoticed though and several armed men are chasing them. Her brother manages to kill some of them with some sort of strange power. It’s enough to let her escape before they manage to bring him down.
In response, a team of mercenaries Allan (Jeremy Calcote, Draco Ortus, Curse of the Black Lagoon), Jason (Ben Johnson, Jurassic Thunder, The Jurassic Dead), Julie (Sarah Klaren, Alarmed, Invocation), and Tuck (Wesley Clark) is dispatched to deal with her. The crew has its own internal issues, mostly revolving around their tracker and sniper, Julie. She is the replacement for Jason’s brother who was killed in action, and she can’t seem to do anything good enough to suit him.
You can probably guess that Sirona and her brother are the result of human experiments at the facility. But in case you couldn’t, she goes into detail about it to Calvin (Rafael Velasquez, Fettered, Art of War) whose cabin she takes refuge in.
With its low budget, Sirona is obviously going to rely on dialogue as much as, if not more than, action scenes. And there was a time when that was typical for films about people with superpowers. If you’ve seen the made-for-TV superhero films from the 70s and 80s, you know what I mean. It’s only recently that any film involving super-powered mutants is expected to have a nine-figure budget.
Clark has the good sense not to attempt to match those film’s effects with cut rate CGI or make an action film with little action. Instead, Sirona keeps the effects to some simple CGI and concentrates on the ethics and morality of the situation. That’s something that’s been a part of several of the MCU films, though kept in the background as a justification for all the action set pieces.
Unfortunately, Clark has bitten off a bit more than he can chew, taking on so many roles so early in his career. The biggest problem is the film’s dialogue, which tends to be stilted and on the nose a lot of the time. Compounding this, some of the performances have a strange feel to them, almost as if the dialogue had been recorded separately and dubbed in. I’d say it was the result of the performers trying to sound like emotionless professional killers if a good deal of the plot didn’t involve some of them relying too much on their emotions for the other’s comfort.
Eventually Morrow (Shale Le Page, Monster Force Zero, Tsunambee) the squad’s boss shows up demanding Sirona be killed, and the film drops back into action mode for the last half hour. And for what they had to work with it does a fairly good job of it, give or take some of the worst shooting this side of a Star Wars film.
While it’s not bad for a first film, Sirona still falls short of its aims. The dialogue needed some serious work, and it should have gone deeper into the issues it raised. The final scenes seem to hint a sequel may go there. If it does, I hope it goes armed with a better script.
Cranked Up Films will release Sirona on VOD and Digital Platforms on September 5th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information