It all boils down to a lot of same old, same old.
The original Skyline, from music video/SFX mavens the Brothers Strause, was a pretty straightforward fusion dance of Cloverfield and Independence Day. Nobody really gave a shit about it, but it made solid return on a low budget investment, despite being nothing special. Its sequel, Beyond Skyline, jettisons the original authors to let co-writer Liam O’Donnell take over the director’s chair. It’s better in some very important ways but allows its oddball ambitions hamper it from true shlock greatness.
Following its progenitor’s narrative surrounding an alien invasion of Guyver-like space creatures who abduct humans using bright blue lights to harvest their brains and babies, Beyond Skyline begins as a side story to the first movie’s main narrative. We follow Detective Mark Corley (Frank Grillo) and his estranged teenage son, Trent (Jonny Weston), into a NYC subway station where the initial invasion occurs. We’re still being given a scrappy, street level POV of a giant sci-fi spectacle, but we’re doing it with actors who are nowhere near as annoying as Eric Balfour. A nice, little band of survivors are introduced before Corley and co are sucked into a ship, where they meet the surviving couple from the last film, save their baby and wind up crashing the ship into Southeast Asia.
See, this is where the trouble starts. The gritty, clever New York side of the story is brisk, well paced and thrilling enough to make the viewer not ponder on how many variations of this structure they’ve already encountered elsewhere. But the second the cast is transplanted to the other side of the world and we’re in a tent with some scientist talking about alien biology and giving lectures and plotting large scale rebellion, it becomes really easy to tune out. There are a couple of nice touches, like the alien hybrid baby they’ve saved who is aging at an unnatural rate and going from an infant to a young child who can speak dialogue. But it all boils down to a lot of same old, same old.
The reason it’s watchable at all is the cast. Grillo is made for low hanging fruit like this, where he is given a straightforward archetype and lets his stubbled face and permanent scowl do the heavy dramatic lifting the script has forgotten to provide. He’s just a naturally compelling leading man for low level genre fare. Oh, and Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian from The Raid films are in it, too. That’s the reason for the nonsensical jump into another country, to give us a reason for the two baddest ass on-screen fighters to be in attendance. It doesn’t make much sense, but these three combined helps this otherwise run of the mill genre exercise get a pleasant injection of octane.
The problem is that the action sequences don’t offer enough space for Uwais and Ruhian to really let loose, so it feels like a waste of their talents and a lazy way to globalize a movie just three hairs too logical to be a SyFy original flick. Against all odds, the film’s conclusion is pretty satisfying and leaves us with a new status quo that would be fun to explore in yet another sequel. But that’s the beauty of operating with this low of a budget. You can fuck around and the stakes are low enough that modest returns ensure you get to do it again in a few years