Director: David De Bartolome
Christopher Lambert, Lou Diamond Phillips, Kelly Brook

I have never pretended that this web site of mine is unbelievably popular, and I don't think it ever will be. But at the same time, I think I have managed to somewhat stand out from many other movie review web sites, because my focus is on movies that other web sites often don't pay much (if any) attention to. But I do go to other movie review web sites all the time for fun or research purposes, and I have learned a lot of things from them. One of the biggest lessons that I have learned is that everybody not only has their own opinion, they have their own perspective that heavily influences their opinion. It happens all over the world, and I'll give you some examples. Years ago, I read somewhere (I forget where exactly) that when video stores were still abundant all over the world, there were some video stores in foreign countries that apparently thought so highly of Canadian films that they reserved a specific section for them. When I read that, I was quite bewildered. That's because I and many other Canadians consider Canadian cinema to be quite the suckfest and not deserving of such admiration and attention; more often than not they were put in the "foreign" section of our video stores. Another example of perspective comes from, of all places, MAD Magazine. I loved MAD Magazine as a youth, but while I as an adult still picked up a copy to read at my local bookstore now and then before the magazine's demise, I thought that it was not quite as funny as it used to be. But I once read an interesting statement from one of the magazine's staff about this. He said that people who started reading the magazine as a youth from any era during the magazine's run, when becoming an adult, would have have the same opinion as I stated a few sentences ago. As an adult, you have a different perspective than when you were a youth.

While I am speaking about MAD Magazine, I might as well use it to make another point about perspective, though the kind of perspective I will be talking about is a certain kind that stays year after year. Years ago, MAD Magazine did a parody of the movie Grease (titled "Cease"). If memory serves me right, in the last panel of the parody, the characters sang a song that poked fun of the (then) present day attitude towards the 1950s, that being the widely-held belief that life was much better then than now. The song brought up several pressing issues people in the 1950s had to face, and proved that the past had many problems as the present day had. This kind of thing is true today; I am sure many people nowadays look back to the 1980s and think it was a swell time, when there were actually a lot of problems back then. This kind of perspective is interesting, but what is also interesting is when people look into the opposite direction - the future. I think you know already what I'm about to say, but I'll say it anyway. It seems that when it comes to thinking about what the future will be like, the vision that more often than not comes up is a vision that is extremely negative. Movies like Soylent Green and Equilibrium have portrayed the future as bleak and depressing. This is something I know I have talked about this before (though I don't recall where exactly), but I think I, after writing over 900 reviews for this web site, am allowed to repeat myself every once in a while. After all, when Roger Ebert was alive and active, he used the George Carlin line, "What does cocaine make you feel like? It makes you feel like more cocaine" several times over the years.

Now that I can be excused for repeating myself, I can get to trying to answer the question as to why the perspective of the future tend to be very negative. The most obvious answer is that it is easier to mine drama and plot from an undesirable situation. If a character in a movie has a good life Absolonand lives in a pleasant world, chances are that things will in short notice become very boring for viewers. I think another reason why the perspective of the future is often downbeat is that to a degree it makes viewers feel better about their present day lives. If audiences see people suffering, their own personal problems seem small in comparison. So you may think that when I picked up the set in the future movie Absolon I was prepared to feel good about my own present self. However, I also knew before watching the movie that it was Canadian. So with those two opposite extremes, I was actually prepared to feel mediocre from the movie. Anyway, the plot: We learn that in the near future, a virus came out of nowhere and killed most of the human population of Earth. It's possible that the entire human race might have been killed if it hadn't been for industrialist Murchison (Ron Perlman, Hellboy), whose company came up with a way to halt the virus straight in its tracks. That came with a drug called "Absolon", though the drug must be taken by people on a regular basis to fight off the virus. Some time later, a scientist working for Murchison is found murdered, and police officer Norman Scott (Christopher Lambert, Highlander) and his partner are assigned to investigate and find out who the murderer is. But as Scott and his partner investigate, they eventually find out that the murdered scientist was involved in some kind of deep conspiracy - one that involved the possible salvation of the human race. As you probably guessed, soon Scott is on the run from Murchison's goons, who are lead by corrupt law enforcer Walters (Lou Diamond Phillips, Lone Hero). Scott has the support of the murdered scientist's co-worker Claire Whittaker (Kelly Brook, The Italian Job), but will that be enough?

As you probably know, Canada isn't exactly a place that is thriving with science fiction movies, especially ones that are good. For every decent effort like Xchange, you get a ton of efforts like The Shape Of Things To Come. I exchanged three Canadian dollars to get the DVD of Absolon, and after watching it I was in pretty bad shape. From the shabby-looking text from the movie's opening credits, I knew instantly what I was going to get in the 95 minutes that were to unroll. Although the movie did have some United Kingdom support according to its credits, it seems that all the foreign talent managed to do was ensure the movie got widescreen photography. If you have seen your fair share of Canadian television dramas from the same era when Absolon was made, you'll know how this movie looks and feels. While there are the expected Canadian trademark times when the movie looks too bright when it should be darker (and vice versa), the photography for the most part looks extremely washed out, with dull and unvibrant colors and a soft texture to everything instead of more detail. I realize that the world of this movie has been severely run down by a virus, but all the same a bit more pop to the photography would have been much easier on the eyes. But even then, the feel of this alternate universe would have suffered with additional problems. No doubt due to the limited budget, we are told that mankind had stocked up on supplies for 100 years just before the virus, which may explain why virtually all the technology on display is at the same level as the time period when the movie was made. There's precious little in the way of futuristic props, or even special effects, and what little that does manage to be displayed wasn't that particularly good looking in 2003, and looks even worse today.

Absolon was the first motion picture directed by David De Bartolome, and he has not directed another motion picture as of the date of this review's publication. Watching the movie, it's easy to see why. Certainly, he was hampered by a very low budget, but it also seems that he was held back by himself, seemingly showing no enthusiasm for what he was filming. This is especially evident in the action sequences. Action scenes often only go for very short periods of time, and even in the shoot-ups, punch-ups, and car chases that go on for a longer period, everything feels extremely mechanical and by the numbers. There is no energy or excitement generated, and De Bartolome doesn't even make an effort to hide crew members' reflections being showed, or that a garbage truck has suddenly stopped moving when the protagonists jump into it from a "busy" highway overpass. De Bartolome also can't seem to muster enough enthusiasm in his cast, though in fairness he was saddled with Christopher Lambert in the lead role. In the past I've usually thought that Lambert basically coasts by on charisma, but here in Absolon he doesn't even possess that. Here he acts like he was waken up from a deep nap just 30 seconds before De Bartolome shouted "action", and he sounds and acts extremely tired while not seemingly comprehending what's going on and everything he should be doing in the scene. Needless to say, Lambert generates no chemistry, heated or romantic, with his female co-star Kelly Brook, who also seems a bit bewildered. Lou Diamond Phillips does put in somewhat more effort, coming across as a bit more polished, intense, and professional than his co-stars, but Ron Pearlman as the chief bad guy has absolutely no bite or even bark, maybe because it's clear that all of his scenes were shot in the same room... and probably in the same particular day.

I have a feeling that the severe lack of enthusiasm by the director and cast of Absolon was in large part due to the weak screenplay written by Brad Mirman (Truth Or Consequences, N.M.). Somebody in the production should have at one point realized the movie needed a severe rewrite, since there are many glaring problems in the narrative. Such problems include an eventual and troubling revelation of Brook's character that is brought up, but then is instantly forgotten about and never brought up again, as well as the fact that there are many nagging details like how the police got a hologram video of the murder that starts the investigation. Just as bad is the whole so-called "conspiracy" portion of the movie; although I didn't give too many details of the plot for Absolon, I am sure that like myself, anyone who has seen their share of movies with conspiracies will figure out what is going on and why even before starting to watch the movie. Making matters worse is that the characters in this unoriginal storyline don't have any spark that might make it easier to sit through this umpteenth telling of an old basic formula. Lambert's character's past is hardly touched on... and quite frankly hardly seems to influence what he says or does. Phillips' character only has two (very) short scenes before he starts gunning for Lambert's character. And as you can imagine, Pearlman's character doesn't have a chance to show any dimension apart from the basic greedy businessman persona we've seen too many times before in other movies. Absolom is not a movie - instead it's an excuse to keep its participants in front of and behind the camera employed for a short while, and not much more than that.

(Posted March 20, 2023)

Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)
Check for availability on Amazon (Amazon Prime Video)

See also: Carriers, Equilibrium, No Blade Of Grass