Dystopia Leads to Dissonance in Defective
As Defective begins, Jean Harlan works for the totalitarian S.E.A. Corporation. She begins to see cracks in the organization’s facade and digs deeper into her employer’s true intentions. Her estranged brother, Rhett, is on the run from S.E.A. and, as Jean’s loyalties shift, they uncover a web of lies and double-crosses ultimately leading to the reveal of S.E.A.’s ultimate source of power.
A film like Defective is a tough nut to crack. Taken at face value, it’s an admirable attempt at a big sci-fi thriller on a shoestring budget. And, to that end, it works. Writer-director Reese Eveneshen stretches the budget and builds a slick, gory sci-fi world. The action sequences are competent, and the corn syrup is plentiful. On the other hand, the script is frustratingly undercooked.
Defective has a lot on its mind. And that’s a positive. Social commentary is a cornerstone of great science fiction. Unfortunately, the film never really coheres into an organic whole. Due to the sheer amount of ideas Eveneshen presents, the ultimate point of the film is muddied. Once again, the idea of totalitarianism, xenophobia, and the military-industrial complex explored through sci-fi is tried and true. But none of it really sticks.
Defective’s Bad Outweighs the Good
Furthermore, the structure of Defective is jarring. The film runs 1 hour and 41 minutes, but it feels a lot longer. Scenes of dialogue go on far too long and end up repeating the same information multiple times. As stated, the action sequences are competent, but never fully engrossing, and the amount of downtime between them is vast. A film of this caliber should move at a clip without compromising its themes or characters.
Speaking of characters, all of these flaws would be easier to swallow if the characters were there. Unfortunately, they are not. Rhett and Jessica are fine protagonists but don’t leap off the screen. And the side characters are incredibly confusing. S.E.A. spokeswoman Ora Green (Ashley Armstrong) never comes into her own as the villain of the film. She plays the part with plenty of seething, but the series of switchbacks she takes regarding her loyalties keep her at arm’s length from the viewer. And Pierce Felton (Dennis Andres) is all over the place. Ultimately, he plays the part of a former S.E.A. soldier attempting to bring down the corporation by playing both sides. But, his shifting loyalties are confusing and poorly conveyed.
Ultimately, Defective is lovingly made. Reese Eveneshen knows his sci-fi and wears his influences on his sleeve. Unfortunately, the film’s script needed at least one more draft before it went into production. The end result is a jumbled mess with a brain-scratching twist at the end. These low budget sci-fi romps are important in helping an up and coming filmmaker find their footing. But, the creative restrictions involved in a lack of budget must be compensated for. And, outside of some good looking action sequences, Defective never fully climbs that mountain.
A massive injection of nerd!