Written & Directed by: #JoSungHe
Set in the year 2092 and follows the crew of a space junk collector ship called The Victory. When they discover a humanoid robot named Dorothy that's known to be a weapon of mass destruction, they get involved in a risky business deal.
The first big sci-fi film of 2021 is here. Jo Sung-he’s rusty epic, Space Sweepers is an exploration of a future without our trusty Earth and its luscious benefits. Life has changed and substantial existence must move up to the coldness of space. Among androids and police, a captain (Kim Tae-ri) and her crew scavenge scraps from wrecks and weave through any battle that comes their way. That is until they run into a young child humanoid who could just earn them a hefty amount of cash. A business deal is set up and with all risks at stake, an unexpected bond grows between them, setting off a string of events that could cost them their lives.
Kim Tae-ri has worked on only a handful of projects thus far but each role has been vastly different, and here she shines as a strong captain with layers that become more visible as the story unfolds. The supporting cast are magnetic, highlighting Song Joong-ki and Yoo Hae-jin as the voice of Robot. Where the performances muster up some admirable charm here, it falters with Richard Armitage’s presence as Sullivan; the film’s mysterious, scummy opposing character. He plays the part to a seemingly enjoyable degree, yet his charisma barely shines through, thus making his character feel particularly flat and unimportant. I could wish for a more appropriate casting but I’m presuming this was to give Western audiences some sense of familiarity. I mean, he was Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit.
It must be said that while Space Sweepers holds a predictable nature, it is still an entertaining blast of a film for sci-fi lovers. It contains some really nice moments scattered within the bigger set pieces, especially focusing on the teamwork and camaraderie between characters and the cast that brings them to life. But unfortunately, as the film creeps past its third quarter, the plot begins to show cracks from a lengthy stretch; hitting a running time of over two hours. With some trimming this could be a much smoother, enthralling experience.
Some of the action sequences, whilst thrilling, are a touch too hard to follow. Ironically, with the film being set in space, you would assume there was a lot of playing room for camera work, yet it felt pretty tight for these ship chases and the result is a little disorientating. With that being said, the visual design of Space Sweepers is very rustic and beaten down but vibrant. The CGI is decent for a Netflix-distributed film; shaky at times but mostly captivating with a polished colour grade.
Space Sweepers features some truly great performances, touching on themes of love and a story of survival. Its plot spreads thin but remains interesting enough to stick it out to the end, and the visual effects are fairly good despite their ambitiousness. It’s a conceptually sound epic, and even with its shortcomings, an enjoyable ride nonetheless.
Space Sweepers is now streaming on Netflix.