There are certain films that let you think you’re going to have a handle on right from the start and The Colony is one such film. From scene one the audience are shown a bleak, futuristic world blighted by an ice age with a small group of survivors struggling to prolong the existence of mankind. There is the heroic leader, the young apprentice and the slightly unhinged enforcer as there always is and watching on you believe you know exactly where the plot is going, who is going to live or die and where the usual redemption will appear from at the conclusion. But here’s the funny thing...The Colony is actually better than you would expect despite its derivative roots and shame on me (and you) for thinking otherwise.
The disaster which has befallen the Earth at a non-specific future date is obviously man’s fault. While attempting to cool the planet down it would appear that the boffins have inadvertently brought about a new ice age and what remains of the human race are forced to cower inside huge bunkers spread across the land. With health being of the highest value any signs of a sniffle could result in the unfortunate victim being cast out, or worse, killed. This may sound slightly comic, and is not altogether original, but this idea of a dystopian future with people hanging onto life by their fingertips is handled very well.
Director Jeff Renfroe really allows the audience to get a believable sense of the daily struggles faced by the bunker’s occupants and you do find yourself empathising with their unenviable and futile situation. Leading this group of misfits is Briggs (Lawrence Fishburne) along with psychotic right-hand man Mason (Bill Paxton) and protégé Sam (Kevin Segers). When another colony goes silent, and we get to the actual plot, Briggs and Sam set off to investigate and this is where the film’s tone changes. Up until this point The Colony is about a bleak, joyless existence, a struggle against an angry nature but the story now develops into something more akin to an adventure film. What they discover at the otherwise deserted other colony is a group of feral humans, a new breed if you will who are adapting to life in such a difficult world. When this first meeting doesn’t go well Briggs and Sam must make sure their colony is not discovered.
On the whole I enjoyed The Colony very much. Of course this is not a film of any great depth or substance but it doesn’t set out to be. Its messages are pretty clear and while little is new or of great originality it is well designed and intelligently put together.
The performances are good with Fishburne brooding as only Fishburne does and Segers convincing as the hero-in-waiting. Paxton is perhaps a little underused and I wonder of there were scheduling conflicts at all as he comes and goes from the film. The direction is also impressively tight with Renfroe presenting a believable and hostile world outside the colony, avoiding the usual tropes of showing the top of the Statue Of Liberty and similar disaster movie staples. The scenes in the bunker are probably the strongest though and the use of a decommissioned NORAD base is probably the best piece of casting in the film. I would imagine very little needed to be done to the location to make it look so realistically abandoned and frugal.
The Colony is well worth seeking out on download or on demand. There are many films out there of this type but few will deliver such a strong cast on such an enjoyable ride.