Recon 2022: The Mezzo Incident Movie Review
Written by Eric Strauss
DVD released by Terra Entertainment
Directed by Christian Viel
Written by John Fallon, Christian Viel and William Alexander
2007, Region 1, 96 minutes, Not rated
DVD released June 10th, 2008
Anderson Bradshaw as Sharp
Heidi Hawkins as Jesse Sandstorm
Deke Richards as Scott Anderson
Carmen Echeverria as Salma Alvarez
Valerie Wiseman as Kara
Marco Von Moos as Karl Peterson
Gillian Leigh as Fooks
Peter Vrana as Barnes
John Fallon as Cybermerc
In my review of Christian Viel's Recon 2020: The Caprini Massacre, I mentioned how Aliens is my favorite film. And Viel's B-movie version impressed me quite a bit, with its mix of space marines, horror-flick monsters and Terminator-style robots — not to mention pretty solid acting and effects.
Recon 2022: The Mezzo Incident finds Recon 2020's Sgt. Sharp (Anderson Bradshaw, Gothika) newly promoted to lieutenant, reunited with the survivors of the first movie, and on to his next mission. That mission, on the titular ice world Mezzo, brings me to another favorite sci-fi film: The Empire Strikes Back, and the battle on the ice planet Hoth. Needless to say, the idea of mixing space marines with Mezzo's winter world had me salivating.
Did Recon 2022 live up to my expectations — and the standard its predecessor set?
Yes and no.
On the downside, although Viel goes for a larger scale to this film, that really stretches the limits of what he has to work with.
The biggest problem is the ambitious script by Viel, John Fallon (who also reprises his role from Recon 2020 — in a way) and William Alexander. The three try to get more character into the script, but the end result is merely a lot of loose ends and story hooks that don't go anywhere. (Not to mention one major bad guy who the marines have to kill twice, for no obvious reason.)
One final criticism: Fallon takes his rapist-mercenary character from Recon 2020 to the next level in the sequel, but his leering fascination with sexual assault quickly becomes a real turnoff. It's not necessary, and really not enjoyable to watch. He's an effective villain without it.
Beyond the script, another difficulty of grander scale is that computer effects weren't the first movie's strong point, and the more ambitious shots in Recon 2022 — space cruisers, ice-planet landscapes — still look pretty fake.
It was safer ground with the claustrophobic warehouse and grumpy, archetypal veterans of the first film.
On the other hand, Viel does get the most out of the location shooting in icy Canada, and the scenes inside the enemy bunker show he hasn't lost his touch when it comes to crafting paranoia inside every shadow.
The acting remains solid, with Bradshaw again leading the way, rejoined by capable Valerie Wiseman as cyborg Kara and pretty Gillian Leigh as pilot Fooks.
The star among the newcomers is Heidi Hawkins (Samhain), who had a bit part in the original but plays a major role in this sequel. Of all the actors trying to elicit sympathy for their characters, she is the most effective, though Carmen Echeverria (Deaden) gets more screen time as Sharp's rival lieutenant and Deke Richards (300) gets better lines as the sex-fiend medic.
The horror-movie monsters of the first film are replaced by aliens in this one, and once again, that shines a little too much light on the shaky CGI. On the other hand, the heavily-armed cyborgs are back, too, and their makeup and effects got even better.
Best of all, the combat also remains top-notch, both in terms of gunplay and hand-to-hand.
Viel is already casting both Recon 2023 and Recon 2024. He certainly knows a good thing when he sees it, and he has the skill and material to make his sci-fi fight-fests into entertaining films.
The only question is how much of the flaws viewers are willing to chalk up to the B-movie nature of the series.
If they can look past the inherent, and even more obvious, budget-related weaknesses — and the script's weaker moments — there's a lot to like on Mezzo.
Maybe not for Lt. Sharp and his team, but for fans of sci-fi action.
Video and Audio:
Audio/video quality will not be graded, as this is a screener.
Special features were not included, and will not be graded, as this is a screener.
Recon 2022 is a slow starter that suffers from what I like to think of as the Elvis Presley syndrome: "A little less conversation, a little more action."
But once the Mezzo Incident finally gets rolling, it's an entertaining ride.
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