(US - 2016)
Directed by Nic Mathieu. Written by George Nolfi. Cast: James Badge Dale, Emily Mortimer, Bruce Greenwood, Max Martini, Cory Hardrict, Clayne Crawford, Gonzalo Menendez, Ursula Parker, Stephen Root, Aaron Serban, Dylan Smith, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Ryan Robbins, Jimmy Akingbola. (Unrated, 108 mins)
After over a year on the shelf, SPECTRAL, a $70 million Legendary Pictures-produced sci-fi horror actioner, was set to open in theaters nationwide in August 2016. That never happened, as it was abruptly yanked from the release schedule a few weeks earlier after Legendary's WARCRAFT bombed and distributor Universal grew skittish about having another expensive summer flop on its hands, even though WARCRAFT was a hit everywhere in the world but America. They shopped SPECTRAL around to other studios and found a taker in Netflix, who are now streaming it as a "Netflix Original." It's not a great movie by any means, and it likely would've ended up tanking in theaters just as Universal feared, especially being a summer movie lacking any big name draws in front of or behind the camera. In that respect, Netflix seems like perfect platform for SPECTRAL, where it's free from box office expectations and can earn the minor cult following it's inevitably going to get. Military-contracted science researcher Dr. Mark Clyne (James Badge Dale, a solid supporting actor, but c'mon, who puts a $70 million summer sci-fi action movie on the shoulders of James Badge Dale?) is summoned to Moldova to help a tactical unit that's been using high-tech "spectral" combat helmet cam goggles that he designed. He's informed by Gen. Orland (Bruce Greenwood) and CIA operative Fran Madison (Emily Mortimer) that the cameras have been picking up images of apparitions--termed "hyperspectral anomalies"--who have attacked and killed several members of the Delta Force team, led by Sgt. Sessions (Max Martini, Dale's 13 HOURS co-star). Orland and Madison believe it's a cloaking device being used by enemy insurgents, which Clyne dismisses since the US hasn't even come close to achieving that capability. Orland orders Clyne and Madison to accompany Sessions and what's left of the Delta team to find another unit that went missing the day before, obviously taken out by the "anomalies," ghostly specters that can only be seen through the combat goggles or the light from a hyperspectral camera that Clyne creates on the fly when most of the goggles are destroyed in a paranormal skirmish.