April 8, 2023
by Carla Hay
Directed by Tanel Toom
Culture Representation: Taking place in an apocalyptic future on a ship in an unnamed ocean, the sci-fi drama film “Last Sentinel” features a nearly all-white cast of characters (with one black/biracial person) representing the working-class and middle-class.
Culture Clash: After an environmental crisis has devastated Earth, four military personnel are stranded at an outpost in the ocean and have conflicts over if or when to leave the outpost.
Culture Audience: “Last Sentinel” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching dull and illogical apocalyptic movies.
“Last Sentinel” is a dreary slog of a movie about four quarreling military people stranded on an outpost in the ocean. This lackluster drama has a thin plot that gets dragged out and tangled up in a lot of nonsense. The majority of the film is tedious repetition of these four people arguing about if or when they should leave the outpost. Viewers will learn very little about these characters and their lives by the end of the movie.
Directed by Tanel Toom and written by Malachi Smyth, “Last Sentinel” is a movie that looks like it would have been better off as a short film. It’s obvious that the filmmakers ran of out ideas of how to make “Last Sentinel” suspenseful, and they just reverted back to having more scenes of the characters arguing. It’s lazy filmmaking, because that screen time could have been used to give viewers more information about the backstories of each of these characters, in order to explain the characters’ motivations and to get viewers to care about these characters.
An on-screen written introduction to “Last Sentinel” explains that the movie takes place in an unidentified future when climate change has devastated Earth and left most of the planet flooded. Most of the human population is now dead. “Survival is a constant fight for land and resources,” the statement reads. A military outpost, consisting of a lookout tower and a mid-sized cargo ship, is stationed in an unnamed ocean. The four people at this outpost signed up to be there for two years.
The two-year period is now over, and they are expecting to go home. (The movie never mentions where “home” is for any of these characters.) These military people have been patiently waiting for other military personnel to arrive who will replace them at this outpost. This expected “relief crew” is now three months overdue.
These are the four sentinels at this outpost:
- Cassidy (played by Kate Bosworth), a corporal who is American, is the one who is most likely to use the communication equipment on the ship.
- Sullivan, nicknamed Sully (played by Lucien Laviscount), is an American, and he does a lot of the fishing and exploring for this team. Cassidy helps with gathering food too.
- Richard Baines, nicknamed Baines (played by Martin McCann), is Scottish and the ship’s chief engineer.
- Henrichs (played by Thomas Kretschmann), a sergeant with a German accent, is the leader of the team.
Sullivan and Baines are the most anxious of the four to leave the outpost and go home. Henrichs is a stern taskmaster who remains adamant that they can’t leave the outpost until the relief crew shows up to replace them. Cassidy vacillates back and forth about staying at the outpost or leaving. Sullivan and Cassidy are semi-secret lovers, but Sullivan seems to have more romantic feelings for Cassidy than she does for him. Baines is a hothead/loose cannon with a shady past, but he’s not the only one with secrets.
The communications equipment on the ship is faulty, since no one is answering the messages that they send out. The team gets messages that the relief crew already arrived, but there is no sign of this crew. (“Last Sentinel” is not a horror movie with a supernatural element.) Meanwhile, viewers have to sit through idiotic lines of dialogue, such as Cassidy saying: “The only way to un-fuck the world is to wipe out humans.”
The acting in “Last Sentinel” isn’t anything special, although Laviscount (who is British in real life) and McCann (who is from Northern Ireland) do pretty good jobs of having language accents that are different from their real ethnicities. “Last Sentinel” truly wastes a lot of time with meaningless scenes that do little to further the story. By the time a “reveal” happens near the end of the film, it just raises more questions that “Last Sentinel” never bothers to answer.
During this entire long-winded movie that last nearly two hours, it’s never explained what these four people were supposed to be doing for two years on this outpost in the middle of the ocean. In the beginning of the movie, it’s mentioned that these four sentinels are nearly out of food, and their recent fishing attempts have come up empty. The possibility of starving to death is unrealistically never mentioned again, as these four dimwits waste time arguing and pointing guns at each other. There doesn’t seem to be any good reason for this terribly boring and ridiculous movie to exist, unless someone with insomnia wants to use it as an effective way to fall asleep.
Vertical released “Last Sentinel” in select U.S. cinemas on March 24, 2023.