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Halo: Nightfall

Hugh David locks and loads for Locke

Halo: Nightfall

Jameson Locke is a legendary manhunter and agent with the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), Earth’s most powerful and secretive military branch. When he and his team are caught in a horrific biological attack, they unravel a plot that draws them to an ancient, hellish artifact, where they will be forced to fight for their survival, question everything, and ultimately choose between their loyalties and their lives…

Scott Free, the British production outfit founded by Ridley Scott with his late brother Tony, have an enviable track record within the world of television.  Six years of U.S. primetime crime hit Numb3rs, six years into current hit drama The Good Wife, and with numerous TV movies (RKO 281, Orpheus) and mini-series to their name (Klondike, Labyrinth, World Without End, The Andromeda Strain, The Company), the folks there are seasoned professionals, and it shows in every facet of this production.  Director and former Croatian actor Sergio Mimica-Gezzan cut his directing teeth as assistant director to Steven Spielberg on several huge films, and delivered Scott Free an international hit out of epic Ken Follett-novel adaptation Pillars of the Earth.  Here he turns his hand to SF horror-action and hits the right notes, nodding to the expected film (the Riddick films, a single scene homage to producer Scott’s Blade Runner) and game references (Master Chief, the Halo, etc.), and helping the Halo team tell a story that moves the Halo world and the longer narrative on a bit and into a different arena.

This isn’t about bringing squad-based Band of Brothers SF action to the screen; this is instead about looking at black ops specialists and the work they have to do for ONI in the Halo universe, and in that arena it’s a success.  The plot revolves around the team on the ground in an outer colony tracking an “insurgent”, leading to a biological attack that proves to have its roots on a remaining chunk of the Halo.  The local military, led by a former Spartan, join forces with Agent Locke’s team to eliminate the threat, but it looks like the threat may eliminate them… Throw in a soupçon of “War on Terror” allegory plus good production design and FX, and you have a decent afternoon’s matinee adventure.

Lead actor Mike Colter is the man on whom all eyes rest for this storyline; not only is his Agent Locke the man with the plan whatever the situation, and feature in the upcoming Halo 5, he’s now been officially announced as Marvel’s Luke Cage in their upcoming Netflix series AKA Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, so for a lot of genre fans this is their first real experience of him.  He proves a riveting presence, possessed of that old-fashioned screen attraction that makes it hard to take your eyes off him whenever he’s on screen.  At ease with the dialogue, able to make moments meaningful and kick alien butt, Colter is the ideal genre leading man. Surrounded by a solid cast, including familiar Brit talents Steve Waddington and rising genre presence Erica Chong, Colter leads them through the plot as their numbers fall, but we root for him despite everything. In the end Waddington steals his acting thunder, and Halo: Nightfall proves itself to be from a worthy lineage of westerns and war movies going back decades.  However, it still bodes well for the future adventures of Agent Locke.

Halo: Nightfall is out next week on UK DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

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