Incoming (2018)

Rating: D+

Dir: Eric Zaragoza
Star: Scott Adkins, Aaron McCusker, Michelle Lehane, Vahidin Prelic

I was excited to discover an Adkins movie from five years ago, which had apparently flown under the radar and escaped my attention. However, having seen it, I tend to wish it had achieved an even lower altitude over the cultural landscape. While it’s a key tenet of my cinematic philosophy that no Scott Adkins film can ever be entirely without merit, this one… isn’t his best. I should probably have realized, by the movie beginning in clips from the London suburbs of Stockfootagia, followed by a poorly-rendered CGI explosion of Big Ben. Five years later, six terrorists from The Wolfpack, the group responsible, are being held and interrogated at a black site, to find the Wolfpack’s leader. It’s cunningly located on the International Space Station. Because, in space, nobody can hear you Geneva Convention, apparently.

Your regular schedule of extraordinary rendition is interrupted by the arrival of the do-gooding Doctor Stone (Lehane), her CIA handler Reiser (Adkins) and space shuttle pilot Bridges (McCosker). They join the sole ISS employee, Loughlin, and before you can say, “I think I saw a film like this with Gerard Butler in it,” the prisoners have escaped, courtesy of Dr. Stone being particularly dumb. By unfortunate bad luck, one of them knows how to fly the Space Shuttle, and the re-united members of the Wolfpack plan to use it to turn the ISS into a missile, aimed at the Russian capital. For this dates from a long-ago past, when taking out Moscow from orbit seemed like a bad idea.

It is, of course, up to Reiser to ensure it doesn’t happen. The occasionally crunchy violence which results is the film’s sole saving grace, with some reasonable hand-to-hand combat. The location does explain the lack of guns, though a throwaway line about artificial gravity – no doubt, for the sake of the budget – means no weightless fights. The problem is a script which seems less poorly thought-out, than not thought-out at all. For example, early on, we are told of the Wolfpack’s “threat to wage war against all five permanent members of the UN Security Council.” Seconds later, it links the Alpha to attacks on the Coliseum and Taj Mahal. Neither Italy nor India have ever been permanent members of the UN Security Council.

This sloppiness permeates almost every aspect, with not even the main premise – converting the ISS to a black site – making sense. What improvement does this offer over a ship in international waters? Certainly, it creates far more problems. The film is stuffed with unlikable characters too, though I was at least slightly amused by Dr. Stone’s transformation from bleeding-heart liberal to someone  enthusiastically into stabbing terrorists without any inkling of due process. The murky lighting on the ISS doesn’t help matters, and the entity as a whole manages to take what seemed like a sure-fire high concept, “Scott Adkins in space,” and render it in a way almost consciously intent on squandering every ounce of potential.

This review is part of Project Adkins, covering the movies of Scott Adkins.