Cosmic Sin is a Bruce Willis and Frank Grillo-starring sci-fi film that’s so bad it has little-to-no redeeming qualities.
Science fiction, or as it is more accurately called, Speculative Fiction, is one of the oldest film genres. Sci-fi films were some of the very first features made in the silent era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A genre where anything and everything is possible, there is no limit except for the filmmaker’s imagination. And this is the problem with the latest Bruce Willis film, Cosmic Sin, a film where it’s hard to find anything positive thing to say about it. This film doesn’t just jump the shark; it keeps going back for more and more.
In the year 2524, humans have fully colonised space, with a government entity called the Alliance ruling over many disparate interplanetary habitats. Willis plays James Ford, nicknamed “Blood General” because of his role in launching a “Q-bomb” on a planet to wipe out a rebel faction that only wanted to break away from the Alliance’s grip. This info dump is pretty much thrown at you within the first couple of minutes via captions before we arrive at the now (of course) disgraced general. Ford is coldly brooding at a roadside dive-bar, trying to drown his sorrows and regrets as hostile civilians attack him.
After the most boring fight Bruce Willis has ever done on screen ends, he is called back into active duty (surprise!) as there has been a ‘first contact incident’ at a mining colony. The colony’s survivors have returned looking like something out of a bad student film remake of Resident Evil (2002) or something from Ghosts of Mars (2001). The Alliance is desperate for Ford’s help before all-out interstellar war breaks out. The naturally high-tension backroom meeting about how to deal with this threat to humanity ensues. Here, the term ‘cosmic sin’ (from the title) is suggested by the Alliance’s behavioural biologist. Of course, Ford’s former lover, Dr Lea Goss (Perrey Reeves), refers to the moral quandary of wiping out an entire species, hostile or not, like the wrath of a vengeful God.
But, let’s face it, this kind of path has already been mapped and traversed by far better films from Independence Day (1996) to Starship Troopers (1997), even John Pertwee-era episodes of Doctor Who deal with the subject matter in more exciting and thought-provoking ways.
These huge concepts are barely even given lip service; one-character jibes that “Either way this works, it’s going to be on the wrong side of history”. Strapping on hyper suits that look like they’ve come right out of a b-grade sci-fi film from the 1980s, Ford and Goss join Commanding General Eron Ryle (Frank Grillo – barely as conscious as Willis) and the just as wooden, typical wanna-be space colonial marines. Together they blast off into space with a new Q-bomb to wipe out the alien invaders before they kill everyone. Hang on; this sounds awfully familiar.
Bruce Willis has already starred in another sci-fi film this year, John Suit’s Breach. The screenwriter of that film, Edward Drake, writes and directs Cosmic Sin. The visual effects, the space vistas etc., are rather by-the-numbers and offer little in anything that engages the audience. Tonally the film seems to miss the point, as some of the beats are beat-for-beat unashamedly stolen from far better and far more fun films, some of Willis’ own. The dialogue could have been fun if everyone on screen isn’t so serious all the time. This film could be an incredible parody of alien invasion, zombie-survivalist horror movies if it weren’t trying to be so pretentious.
Eventually, Cosmic Sin does attempt the mandatory epic battle between man and alien invasion, though you don’t care. In a couple of points in the final act, you almost hope that the aliens win. Drake and his team have given us so much cardboard in the characters that you think you’ve just received a package from Amazon. Cut-away scenes in the average first-person shooter video game have more depth, better dialogue, and charisma than anything in Cosmic Sin.
Early into the movie, in the scene where the female sniper is on the ridge, the camera pans from the sniper to Bruce Willis. During this pan, a lot of the crew is clearly visible in the top half of the screen.