Film review: Dragon Day
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"All of our electronics... all these devices... can be accessed over a secret wireless network."
Secretly I'm actually a fan of low-budget movies. Firstly, because sometimes there are surprising things to see in this niche market. Occasionally you'll encounter a rough diamond that would be a real gem if it was better cut.
Secondly, the authors usually aren't really concerned about the public opinion and there is no fear of stepping on someone's toes or going against the grain.
This is the case with Dragon Day (or Invasion Day as it is called on the European continent).
The creators have ensured that most of moviegoers will avoid this film. First, the American public really won't be happy about the outcome. Usually a movie ends with an epic, grandiose victory. In this film, they go for something completely different.
With low-budget films there are always some certainties: the performances are pretty pitiful to downright terrible. And the special effects won't blow your socks off. Usually it looks amateurish, with pale camera images and a downright bad timing. There is usually no impressing soundtrack.
The only thing that usually keeps a low-budget film afloat, is an intriguing and cleverly put together storyline, that will keep your attention.
I found Dragon Day fairly successful in that area and I could sit through the whole movie without any problem, despite the fact that there are some shortcomings. Even the end surprised me.
Duke Evans is an NSA analyst, who is suffering a huge financial burden and is eventually fired. Apparently he inherits a country-house from his grandfather, somewhere in the mountains, and moves there with his family.
On arrival, they discover there is a Mexican who has been renting and maintaining this house for some time. While the police remove this intruder, a plane crashes down in the immediate vicinity.
Slowly, everything starts to fail: cars, electricity, water, communications, television broadcasting. It turns out there is an invasion by China because the US has a trillion-dollar debt and doesn't want to pay it back.
So China claims the right to occupy the US, and this is simply done by using the millions of chips that are incorporated in electronic devices with "Made in China" on them. Through a backdoor, a virus is released in American society after which everything is thrown back in time by 30 years.
Don't expect impressive images of an imploding White House, as in Independence Day, or continuous action as in White House Down. The special effects are limited to a few ugly plumes of smoke that insinuate a plane crash, and a panoramic view of an American city in ruins.
The emphasis in this movie is on the collapse of a society where human values are pushed to the side and the survival instinct comes up, resulting in debauchery and cruelty. Invasion Day shows desperation because of lack of basic needs such as food and water.
Perhaps the idea that an entire continent can be paralysed by disabling its electronic network, is a bit excessive. Yet this is not inconceivable, in this age of hackers, spam, viruses, spyware, malware, Stuxnet, cyber-stalking, DDoS attacks, phishing and e-Fraud. Obviously not on such a large scale, but still disastrous enough.
Ethan Flower takes the lead. For me, he's totally unknown (like most of the cast) who eventually perform well enough, even though he sometimes acts like a dull vegetable. All in all a pleasant and convincing performance.
Asa Wallander is something else, she annoyed me from the beginning. Terrible overacting and sometimes downright bizarre reactions (which of course is a bit the fault of the script). Personally, I would have used a sledgehammer on her.
The best performances for me were Eloy Mendez as the resident Mexican, and William Knight as the elderly neighbour Albert Grimes.
Despite the interesting story, there were still some implausible facts. There are some passenger planes crashing and Duke immediately has the brilliant idea that it's an invasion.
After shattering several cellphones and seeing chips with "Made in China" on them, he immediately concludes that China is responsible.
All in all a pleasant surprise that had some strong content but visually wasn't that overwhelming.
My rating 5/10
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