In an age where low-rent actioners are often pushed aside for bombastic blockbusters, Scott Akins’ endurance as a strong-willed action star has been a welcomed development. The Debt Collector star has pushed out a steady output of agreeable offerings, with Adkins’ steady presence often carrying middling material over the finish line. His latest lo-fi effort The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud warmly delves into 80’s gamer culture with mostly winning results.
Max Cloud follows Sarah (Isabella Allen) a skilled gamer who suddenly gets transported into the world of a new science fiction game. To escape this eternal purgatory, Sarah relies on her good friend Cowboy (Franz Drameh) and game’s heroic protagonist Max Cloud (Scott Akins) to defeat the nefarious Revengor (John Hannah).
Writer/director Martin Owen has been searching for his footing as a genre filmmaker (Killers Anonymous was a well-intended mixed bag). Thankfully, Max Cloud extenuates his strengths and passions as a director. Owen adeptly dials into the 80’s bright synths and colors, evoking the period’s innate charms without overplaying his hand. The inspired visceral choices aid the film’s cheeky action setpieces, with Owen often finding a comfortable middle ground between well-coordinated stunts and entertaining action camp. Unlike other genre vehicles that tirelessly try (and fail) to evoke a finite cultural subsection, Max Cloud displays genuine knowledge and adoration for its unique time period (the melding of video game-esque frames with Cloud’s live-action setting is engaging and often quite clever).
The cast is well-calibrated with the film’s tonal frequency. Scott Adkins has a blast as the self-serious Max Cloud, often finding ways to subvert the action star pastiche with his deft lampooning hand. His over-the-top bravado rings with an earnest cheesiness that registers most of the film’s best laughs. Isabella Allen and Franz Drameh infuse an infectious charisma into their archetype roles, morphing seemingly cliched characters into likable lived in personas. Supporting players Tommy Flanagan, John Hannah, and the future James Bond Lashana Lynch also have a blast with their colorful roles.
The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud boasts a scrappy energy that’s often endearing, yet there are still glaring inconsistencies present throughout. Owen’s screenplay serviceably tells a light-hearted narrative, but his effort does little to build an experience with substantive impact. The characters are relatively one-dimensional while the story beats play out with a casual obviousness. Max Cloud’s humor streak also lacks consistency, overplaying gags till they become tiresome to endure.
It may play into genre formula, but Max Cloud offers an agreeable diversion through its creative video game lens.
The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud is now available on VOD platforms, and in the UK on digital, DVD & Blu-ray from 18th January 2021.
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