By: Addison Wylie
Movies like Debug make me wish I had a notebook handy during screenings. I feel overwhelmed trying to remember all of the sci-fi mumbo-jumbo that fills David Hewlett’s futuristic space horror.
Let’s just say Hewlett’s self-penned script has expiatory dialoguing of the laziest kind. Science fiction often hosts the worst scenarios since some filmmakers just want to hurl a bunch of technical nonsense towards the audience and expect movie goers will be excited to hear intergalactic data through a language slightly more advanced than hyphenated binary code.
But, what isn’t off the shelf in Debug? A movie so disinterested in itself that it doesn’t bother to disguise that the production is recycling its sets.
The characters are convicted felons who serve their time cleaning up abandoned space stations. When the group embarks on an unscheduled mission, they’re threatened by a malevolent AI (played by Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa) who can manipulate the spaceship’s network into a maddening hell.
The criminals are all attractive young actors, which makes it hard to believe this clan was cast based on their ability to be intimidating or heroic, which they’re not. They’re introduced to the audience through one of those pointless sequences where characterization is explained by scrolling block text as a computer recognizes who they are. Frankly, they’re boiled down to physicality and oddball mannerisms. For instance, Kyle Mac doesn’t play the role of Samson. He plays the role of “scruffy, comic relief who is scared of rats”. A shame since Mac is capable of so much more (see: Moon Point). The girls get superficial attributes plus a low-cut top.
The crooks communicate through POV headsets. While this idea may have looked realistic on paper, the execution is just a slew of invasive close-ups as blips, pixels, and radars clutter the frame. In order to make Debug look futuristic, Hewlett has slathered on a ton of post-production effects – all of which only make the movie look more corny. Gratuitous establishing shots of the haunted spacecraft look as they’ve been inspired by the Sega CD era, and the obvious computer-generated blood add insult to injury (no pun intended).
Then, there’s Jason Momoa. His appearance in Debug suggests he feels sympathy towards low-rent Canadian schlock. First, there was Wolves, and now this. But, even the musclebound actor must’ve wondered why someone of his stature was included in this display of amateur hour. Aside from some plain choreography, most of Momoa’s performance could’ve been Skyped in. Any older actor with furrowed brows and facial hair would’ve fit the bill.
Considering Momoa was most likely the actor with the highest salary, why didn’t Debug take a chance with a lesser known character actor? Then, Hewlett’s production could’ve invested the left over funding towards, I don’t know, another set.