Streaming Releases: Defective (2017) - Reviewed

Dystopian films seem to be having a huge resurgence lately, in some part due to the uncertainty that is permeating the world in our current social climate. Especially of note is our increasing surveillance and police presence which Defective (2018) attempts to build a narrative around.

The film takes place in a dystopian future where North America has been turned into a police state. Heavily armored anonymous guards called Preservers of Peace roam the streets and instantly execute anyone found guilty of the smallest offenses. They are owned by a mysterious corporation known as the State Enforcement Agency that may or may not have nefarious intentions. The plot feels like a mix between 1984 and Judge Dredd and it feels somewhat derivative. That alone doesn't make a film bad, but Defective doesn't really attempt to take the concepts anywhere new or creative.

It's readily apparent the film had a small budget and it can be felt in all aspects of the production. The special effects range from mediocre to downright bad, though some of the set-design and costuming (the armored enforcers look pretty bad ass) is neat looking. Occasionally the sound mixing is muffled and the music is bland but serviceable. The cinematography has a few shining moments but for the most part the shots and framing are uninteresting. Action scenes fare a bit better, but the fight choreography is awkward looking. Having a small budget doesn't mean a film will always suffer quality-wise but I think Defective tried to bite off more than it could chew with its scope.

I liked the premise of the story on paper, but in execution the narrative and pacing is clunky. There are too many scenes of the characters giving exposition dumps and honestly, this film could use about thirty minutes shaved off of it, specifically in the second act. It takes way too long for it to reveal the twists and turns and it would have greatly benefited from being leaner and tighter. The ideas it tries to explore are intriguing, but it tries to be a philosophical think-piece and an action movie but without enough resources to do both simultaneously. Overall, it's not a terrible movie, just a missed opportunity worth a rental at best.

--Michelle Kisner