Directed by: Daniel Raboldt
Written by: Daniel Raboldt
Starring: Stefan Ebel, Siri Nase
Film Review by: Corey Bulloch
A New World Order (2019) Film Review
“It's the end of the world as we know it…”
The post-apocalyptic premise of Daniel Rabdolt’s grim science-fiction drama may not be the most wholly original idea as the audience watches Tomasz, a hardened survivor, make his way through a world conquered by a machine uprising. Although, I am willing to give A New World Order merit in how Rabdolt tells this story through silence and body language, letting visuals do the majority of the storytelling. Sound is the key to these towering machines locating you, so Tomasz and eventual ally Lilja must be vigilant and creative in how they endure. Some may say that a non-dialogue driven narrative may be derivative of the popular Quiet Place franchise, but I appreciated this type of film not getting bogged down in vocal exposition.
Raboldt's film has the usual tropes of low budget science fiction and the post-apocalypse genre as immersion becomes questionable over time as it just feels like the typical low budget milieu actors walking in the woods despite appearances from giant robots. Raboldt’s direction initially starts well I was impressed in how he begins the film, letting the audience figure out what this world may be just through Tomasz’s actions again I may just be grateful there was no arduous voiceover explaining everything. Though as the film goes on it becomes clear A New World Order just can’t sustain a feature-length as interest dwindles as the tropes and lack of charismatic performances leave its latter half feeling very generic.
Stefan Ebel’s performance as Tomasz can only go so far, like Radbolt’s grip on the viewer, the character's intrigue diminishes over the runtime. With so much of the film relying on the actor’s physical performances to emote their journeys, Ebel and Siri Nase as Lilja just can’t reach the mark. Though they do have these brief moments when the script builds on themes of redemption and survivor’s guilt, giving a spotlight to their humanity. In one of their moments of silence, I was quite fond of the reference to Chaplin’s The Gold Rush during a dinner scene between the two characters.
The necessary humanity needed for this story can get lost in Raboldt’s direction along with the presentation of the film. Cinematography and visual effects are components that feel very broad in execution, with small moments capturing my attention, then large swaths just losing me. I appreciated the director of photography Thorsten Frazen’s few shots giving the world of the film scope. With landscape shots of vast forest and hilltops, although these shots contrast poorly against the rest of the film, that never feels as cinematic. It also doesn’t help that the CGI is such a mixed bag, but I will say that for a film revolving around giant killer robots, the giant killer robots looked pretty good. They feel more like set dressing than a tangible threat to the characters, but they are not distracting when interacting in the world. What is distracting is the terrible smoke effects that the film constantly uses during flashbacks and battle scenes. This hinders Raboldt and Frazen in creating realism for these critical moments and serves as an unfortunate visual reminder of the film’s limitations.
A New World Order treads familiar ground with little to no innovation or unique creativity, but alas, it is not entirely meaningless. I feel Raboldt’s direction and vision for this story would have been better suited for a shorter runtime as it can not escape the tired iconography of its genre. The film can hold you for a few moments, but there is too much bloat to sustain it.
UK premiere on DVD and digital 23 August 2021