‘Last Sentinel’ Review: A Mysterious Sci-fi Thriller Rich in Atmosphere

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Science fiction is really one of the most interesting genres in cinema. It can take us just about 5 minutes into the future, and things are different enough that it seems weird. In 2019, for example, we couldn’t have imagined the world we have today, and that is a space of just about four years. What could 40 years of difference look like? That is the question that Last Sentinel proposes, and the result is a science fiction film that is very much grounded in a reality that feels like it is happening right now.

Last Sentinel is a film directed by Tanel Toom and stars Kate Bosworth, Lucien Laviscount, Martin McCann, and Thomas Kretschmann. The film tells the story of a lonely outpost out in the sea. This outpost is supposed to guard the line of defense between enemies fighting in a war that has lasted decades. However, the enemy’s nature is a mystery; one side knows nothing about the other, yet they fight. The outpost crew begins to have mental breakdowns when it becomes clear that their relief duty will not come to let them go home.

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Last Sentinel is quite an interesting film. A science fiction movie uses simplicity and vagueness instead of detail. The result is a movie that moves slowly, which the story doesn’t really seem clear until well into the runtime, and also a film that knows how to create tension. This is all done inside just one location, the terrifyingly isolated sea outpost. The movie doesn’t look to be set in the future, yet you know that something is not right. This is not the world we are living in right now.


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Mart Ratassepp’s cinematography is indeed clever, and he knows how to keep things fresh, even if we repeatedly rotate around the same four rooms. This film is clearly a low-budget production, but the money they have was well spent, and the visual composites and other visual effects are quite solid. There are a couple of moments when the green screen is very noticeable, but other than that, the film feels like a production that cost much more money than it did.

The film also counts with an excellent group of actors. Bosworth has been one of those actors who sit mostly in the background and do their things, but seeing her here taking the lead role feels like something that should have happened long ago. Laviscount comes fresh out of his run in Emily in Paris with a role that feels completely different from that one and proves that the actor has range when drawing the characters he performs.

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As a science fiction film, the experience won’t be for everyone. Last Sentinel has more in common with something like The Thing than with Terminator, and even in that comparison, you would need to take the monster out of the Thing. The science fiction elements are just the backdrop to something that feels more like old-fashion paranoia and the fear of the unknown. As the story develops, you understand that every decision these characters make is based on fear, which is very relatable.

However, when it comes to being a film that can entertain you, maybe Last Sentinel is not the best option. You need to watch this movie in the right kind of mood. If you are in for something much more conventional and straight to the point, there are plenty more offerings out there. It would be pretentious to say that Last Sentinel is a thinking-person movie. Still, it does feel that way when the focus is clearly on the ideas that reflect in the subconscious and not on ideas that reflect the technology that could be ours many, many decades from now.

The movie might also be a bit longer than it should be. This is a common trend in films right now. There is clearly a cut here that feels tighter without sacrificing the atmosphere or the introspection from the characters. Instead, we are told to spend almost two hours with these four characters, which are not very fun people to be with. The pacing could have been a bit faster, but I guess the creators were looking for something more of a slow burn.

Last Sentinel is an intriguing piece of filmmaking. The actors do a wonderful job representing all these terror stages their minds are going through. The production is also quite solid, using their budget to create a truly desolated environment. The cinematography also helps make things more dynamic, even when the movie does its own thing throughout very few rooms. It might not be for everyone, but it is one of those movies that will make you think about what it all means.

SCORE: 7/10

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