Redcon-1 (2018) is a military action flick centered around a virus-driven zombie outbreak in England. A team of purportedly elite soldiers are tasked with entering the undead fray and returning safely with the scientist who originated the virus in tow. Of course, things go awry, and the mission results in lots of dead bodies. The film is directed by Chee Keong Cheung (Bodyguard: A New Beginning), and written by Cheung, Steve Horvath (Rise of the Gargoyles 2009), and martial artist Mark Strange (who also acts in the film.) Unfortunately for the cast and crew, Redcon-1 fails on nearly every level to engage an audience who can easily que up better undead military attempts, such as Julius Avery’s Overlord.
The problems are so numerous that only the most damaging need be mentioned to crush the film. At every turn, Redcon-1 tries to shove cinematic drama down viewers’ throats, be it through interpersonal conflict or monster-exploding gunplay, but it never evokes even the slightest bit of tension. The reason is because Redcon-1 goes out of its way to avoid even the most infinitesimal amount of character development, which results in things happening onscreen “just because.” This is especially devastating to me because the awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator and former Heavy Metal Magazine head Kevin Eastman is a producer; this led me to hope there’d be something special on display, but—alas—this is not the case.
The cast has a good deal of background in the action movie game, but the acting leaves a lot to be desired. The military unit is led by Capt. Marcus Stanton, played by ex-model Oris Erhuero (Highlander: Endgame), with his primary troop members consisting of Sgt. Reeves (Carlos Gallardo of El Mariachi fame), Sgt. Paige (pro-wrestler Katarina “Kate Lea Burchill” Leigh Waters), Lt. Gonzalez (Michael Sheehan, Ripper Street series), Lt. Lau (Akira Koieyama, 47 Ronin), and Lt. Perez (co-scripter Mark Strange). Everyone does a lot of mugging, growling, and spinning around, but there’s not much else for them to work with. If there’s a single scene that attempts to break that trend, its when <spoiler ahead> Water’s character, naked from the shower, asks Sheehan’s character to shoot her, as she’s infected. There’s an honest, non-sexual tension there, which is hampered by the film’s insistence that the single female lead be the only naked person in the movie for a ludicrous reason (stuck in a prison during a zombie riot? Take a shower!)
The script is, unfortunately, the worst aspect of the film. There’s a side-plot following the military that repeatedly shows dull corridors and kills the action, and there are tons of unmotivated character choices that are beyond confusing. Strange’s character is the worst culprit in this latter area, as he’s a turncoat troublemaker that always does the wrong thing for no clear goal. One moment the viewer thinks he’s vying for command, but then he does something in the complete opposite direction that makes that motivation impossible to accept. The other characters simply flip-flop around him, and totally dispel the film’s assertion that these are expert soldiers.