Outland

Sometime in the future, corporations have set up mining bases all over the galaxy. The one on Io (second moon of Jupiter) is the most productive, but is also starting to see an increase in violence among the workers. Sean Connery, a marshall assigned to Io for a year-long tour, decides to investigate the deaths. The movie’s look (grungy, lived-in metal) and tone (exhausted cynicism) are heavily indebted to Alien, and the storyline — in which Connery must face the villains without help from the apathetic workers — has been called a deliberate nod to High Noon. The real problem is that nothing much seems to happen outside of Connery’s detective scenes and the frequent gory deaths of drugged-out workers who expose themselves to the Io atmosphere (1/6th the gravity of Earth) without protection. We just sort of mark time until the arrival of two hit men sent by the corporation to knock Connery out of the way, and Connery isn’t very exciting in the lead; his secret weapon is humor, not bad-ass stoicism, which he’s called upon to lean on almost exclusively here. (The only time he shows some dry wit is when playing off Frances Sternhagen, as a cranky doctor who helps him, or Peter Boyle as the corrupt company manager.) Not as awful as some (like Harlan Ellison in his prolonged diatribe) have said, but not equal to its production and sound design. With James B. Sikking, Steven Berkoff, and some interesting proto-techno music (by Ganymede) in the nightclub scenes.

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