Rubikon review – toxic fog takes over in nifty multilingual sci-fi | Film


Although set in the nearish future in space, this multilingual sci-fi film feels quite of the moment, imbued with guilt and angst about environmental catastrophe, but also suffused with a sense of helplessness. It’s 2056 and, after the collapse of the world’s ecosystem, rich people live in air domes that keep them safe from the contaminated atmosphere. Attempts to find a safe place to live off the planet have failed, as anyone sensible could have told us they would do. On the Rubikon, the last space station, they are working on experiments with algae that might present a solution to the problems down below.

However, members of the station’s small skeleton crew, led by German-born Captain Hannah Wagner (Julia Franz Richter), seem to have competing private agendas. Eventually, everything goes very wrong in a sequence that’s tense and effectively visualised, as a giant smog covers the planet, wiping out life. Hannah is left on board with just British-accented Gavin (George Blagden), a depressive with intense ideals, and Dimitri (Mark Ivanir), a Russian stricken with grief over the loss of his son. While the ensuing sense of despair that overwhelms the drama is credible, it does bring with it a certain sense of torpor that makes the film a bit of a grind in the midsection.

Nevertheless, the visuals are pretty nifty for what must have been a fairly tight budget compared with those of Hollywood blockbusters. There’s an interesting tension between the planetary scale of events and the drama happening onboard the ship. The cast, communicating in a babble of different languages, struggle to keep it all aloft but do a pretty reasonable job, especially Ukrainian actor Ivanir, who has been in a zillion movies playing all kinds of nationalities. The gleaming cinematography by Xiaosu Han and Andreas Thalhammer is luscious, and the costumes are oddly covetable, especially the knitted bodycon jumpers with raised welted lines circumnavigating the shoulders.

Rubikon is on digital platforms from 11 July.

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