Combustible Celluloid Review - Last Sentinel (2023), Malachi Smyth, Tanel Toom, Kate Bosworth, Thomas Kretschmann, Lucien Laviscount, Martin McCann
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With: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Kretschmann, Lucien Laviscount, Martin McCann
Written by: Malachi Smyth
Directed by: Tanel Toom
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 117
Date: 03/24/2023

Last Sentinel (2023)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Outposter Children

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Small in budget, but large in ambition, the futuristic, single-space thriller Last Sentinel has a few bugs, but it also has interesting characters, a few intriguing twists, and — best of all — a great setting.

It's the year 2063. The entire planet has flooded except for two small continents, which are at war with one another. On a military outpost in the middle of the ocean, four souls are stationed: Sgt. Hendrichs (Thomas Kretschmann), Cassidy (Kate Bosworth), Sullivan (Lucien Laviscount), and Baines (Martin McCann). Their two-year shift has been over for three months, but their relief has yet to arrive, and they have run short on supplies.

One day they spy a boat on the horizon. It's abandoned, but it appears to have been their relief crew's vessel. Baines is able to get the boat running again, with the idea of finally going home, and Cassidy and Sullivan agree. But Sarge refuses to abandon his post, and refuses to let the others go as well. The outpost houses a very dangerous weapon, and it must be protected at all costs.

It's the ocean outpost that is the real star of Last Sentinel, a creaky, weather-beaten, tin-can tower with many corridors and rooms, including a secret workshop, while an inflatable tube dancer named "Peter" flaps about topside. Director Tanel Toom, who received an Oscar nomination for his very good 2010 short film The Confession, uses the space well, with strong compositions, while keeping the geography alluringly vague.

The running time of 117 may seem excessive for a "B" movie like this, but Toom uses the time well, to establish character interactions among the strong cast, to slowly build suspense, and to create more room to unveil the twists. There are some clunky, buggy parts, as if certain bits and pieces had been ruthlessly chopped out (perhaps the movie was shortened before release?), but Last Sentinel is of sturdy construction, and very much worth a look.

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