The real sin with a scrappy mess like Cosmic Sin is not that it’s bad, but that it isn’t more fun to watch. Even the silliest action blowouts (looking at you, John Wick and Boss Level) can be hugely enjoyable for the escapism, defiance of physics and cool-guy bad-assery, but when these elements miss their mark, there’s not much left to rescue a low-budget production from the bottom of the barrel. Despite a couple of interesting elements, Cosmic Sin never finds a way to charm the viewer into giving a damn about anything that happens other than rooting for the credits to roll already.

Directed by Edward Drake, who co-wrote the screenplay with Corey Large, the story takes place 500 years in the future after humans have expanded an Alliance beyond our solar system, but have yet to make first contact with any alien intelligence. That happens in the opening scene, prompting an urgent inquiry from Earth’s scientists: “Was first contact positive or negative?” Given that the aliens possessed the bodies and minds of a team of human astronauts and turned them into snarling killers with bad skin, the answer is the latter. A drawn-out and noisy gunfight ensues which, it turns out, happens a lot during the movie’s brief but interminable runtime.

Despite the future setting and a handful of gee-whiz details–a robot bartender with emoji faces!–little about the production design or costuming indicates that the story is taking place centuries from now. Instead, there are a lot of dudes in flannel and tee shirts shooting semi-automatic handguns and driving Jeeps. Once a group of soldiers led by disgraced General James Ford (Bruce Willis) launch themselves across the galaxy to confront the aliens, the scene toggles between blurry and lens-flared space action that doesn’t jibe tonally with dimly lit scenes of grizzled soldiers fretting over computer screens or shooting up warehouses. Willis doesn’t have a lot to do here, and he’s half-assed about doing that much. He smirks, twinkles his eyes and delivers chunks of military-grade clichés, such as his justification for setting off a Q-bomb that killed millions and cost him his rank: “I was following orders.” A few scenes later, he intones that it’s a lot harder to give orders than to follow them, which doesn’t make for much of a coherent philosophy, but then this isn’t the kind of movie where dialogue and character intersect in any meaningful way.

The film’s top-billed star, Frank Grillo, gets even less thoughtful treatment from the filmmakers, as his character, General Ryle, vanishes for large stretches of screen time for no narrative purpose. Grillo has the chops and charisma to lead the kind of action blockbuster this aspires to be, but the filmmakers seem to have forgotten that he’s in the movie. When he does appear, jumbled edits, reflective visors and general mayhem add up to confusion about where he is and what he’s doing even as he’s apparently performing heroic feats.

The one genuinely intriguing element in Cosmic Sin is the way the good guys bring the fight to the aliens: they suit up in what look like armored football pads and then rocket themselves through a wormhole, flying through space in their outfits without need of a vehicle. It makes for some arresting images as the soldiers streak like Iron Men across the cosmos, flying through the midst of a massive space battle in orbit around an alien world before streaking through the atmosphere to hit the ground like cannonballs. Then they spring to their feet and start shooting. It makes no damn sense but it’s fun to watch and ponder for a good minute. Unfortunately, there are 87 other minutes in the movie.

Summary
Despite a couple of interesting elements, Cosmic Sin never finds a way to charm the viewer into giving a damn about anything that happens other than rooting for the credits to roll already.
30 %
Space junk
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