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‘Rubikon’ review: Slow burn sci-fi comes with a moral compass

Live and let die?

Rubikon starts off in the most science fictiony way possible. Text comes across the screen describing a future in which the Earth’s environment is unsuitable for life due to a toxic cloud that covers the planet. Air domes have been constructed for people to live in and corporations run everything. One corporation conducts intergalactic missions looking to find a new home for humanity.

Above the planet is the titular space station and its three person crew. They face a difficult decision: risk their lives to save the remaining people on Earth or remain safe in space. It is not take long to notice the film looks better than most indie sci fi. Instead of going with the more fantastic, Rubikon keeps things simple. The research station and capsules have a clean realistic look to them. There are computers and flashing lights, but nothing is ever overpowering.

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After a tense start, Rubikon moves at a methodical pace. Since the three are complete strangers, there is a lot of time spent with them getting to know each other. (Though one relationship forms very quickly.) This also gives the audience a chance to understand their agendas and motivations. By the time difficult decisions have to be made, it is easy to see why the characters act the way they do.

There have been plenty of sci-fi stories that have explored humanity, but few are as character driven. Rubikon does not focus on the end of the world itself, but the effects on the three leads. This gives the film a chance to explore themes not normally found in similar movies. This means the three are tasked with the heavy lifting. They all convey a variety of emotions and do a great job of getting the moral struggle across. Keeping things interesting are some neat twists. 

In the end, the storytelling will stand out the most. Rubikon does not build the sense of gravity it is striving for, but the premise is strong enough to keep most engaged. The ending also does not pack the emotional guy punch it should. For some reason, it end up feeling flat. It certainly feels like an ending; it is just not as satisfying as it should be.

Rubikon opens in theaters or anywhere movies can be rented July 1


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