Released on DVD on the 20th January 2014 by Entertainment One
In the (presumably not too distant) future, humans build huge weather machines to help combat the devastating effect of global warning by attempting to control the weather. The machines eventually fail, and the earth is plunged into the next ice age. Underground bunkers become the only refuge. Colony 7 is one such bunker, led by Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) and Mason (Bill Paxton). The common cold is now the deadliest threat. Sneeze and you’re instantly thrown into quarantine for an unspecified period, after which if you test positive you are then given a rather unappealing choice: either be released above ground to take your chances (a colder version of the Judge Dredd ‘Long Walk’ into the Cursed Earth) or, if you don’t fancy that, you can be shot in the back by Bill Paxton.Food supplies are understandably a precious commodity and despite harvesting crops and breeding animals in their well-equipped bunker, rationing in Colony 7’s bunker is having to become increasingly stricter – particularly with regards to rabbit stew: “You know you’re screwed when even the rabbits won’t f*uck”.
After receiving a distress signal from a neighbouring bunker, Briggs (Fishburne) decides to lead a hazardous rescue mission across the frozen wastelands – whilst an increasingly militant Mason (Paxton) opts to stay behind and look after number one. Upon arriving at Colony 5, all is not well. The underground corridors are plastered with pools of blood, and distant howls and screams echo through the cavernous tunnelled labyrinth...This is a film which can be filed under the category of ‘wasted opportunity’. The opening frozen ice age landscapes are well mounted and convey a genuine sense of bleakness. Underground, the interiors of Colony 7 are impressively rendered (thanks in no small measure to the fact they were filmed at the decommissioned NORAD -North American Aerospace Defence Command -base in North Bay, Ontario.) The expository-laden dialogue is suitably terse and it’s clear from the off that Briggs and Mason (despite serving together in rescue missions before the big freeze), are poles apart (no pun intended) in how they treat their fellow colonists. Mason doesn’t believe in even giving the cold-sufferers ‘the choice’ and his increasing instability will inevitably lead Colony 7 into mortal danger. Both these reliable veterans make the best of the functional script, with Fishburne’s more level-headed and reasonable Briggs winning out over his ‘bad-cop’ sparring partner Paxton. In between them is Kevin Zegers’ Sam, who manages to hold his own against the two leads and proves to be adept when called upon to spill blood.
The problem is, having competently and effectively set up the frozen landscape / underground bunker concept, the film fails to deliver a suitably impressive ‘pay-off’ and the somewhat rushed final third is completely underwhelming. It feels to me as if the script was originally two completely separate concepts, one a purely DAY AFTER TOMORROW post-apocalyptic icy peril sci-fi jaunt, the other a more WALKING DEAD-like scenario, and in merging the two the film doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts.Plot holes which the ice had frosted over begin to melt as the secret of Colony 5 is thawed out (all these puns are intended red-herrings and bear no relation to the actual denouement). A set-piece showdown on a perilously depilated frozen bridge unveils a gaping plot hole wider than the missing chunk in the centre of the structure. Footprints that surely would’ve been covered over with the continuous snowfall somehow appear perfectly preserved – allowing an implausible pursuit by (largely) implausible pursuers.
The actual narrative running time of the film is only eighty-two minutes – with a whopping supplementary eight minutes of end credits - displaying more padding than the protagonists wear to combat the sub-zero temperatures onscreen. The overall imprint it made in the snow for me was one of: ‘is that it?’
Special Features: Behind the scenes.