The darkest hour, indeed: the one spent calculating all the things you could have purchased with the exorbitant $17 you paid for such a cataclysmic bore outrageously labeled 3D. For $17 you can probably rent or buy both of producer Timur Bekmambetov's horror films — Night Watch and Day Watch — which are astonishing, as well as Wanted, which is rated R and has plenty of eye candy (aside from Emile Hirsch's baby blues, the PG-13-rated Darkest Hour has none).

Hirsch, who played the Thoreauvian Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild and a charming young activist in Milk, is a trustworthy and charismatic actor. He makes safe choices that pay off (The Girl Next Door), as well as zany choices that also pay sort of pay off (Speed Racer), so why The Darkest Hour never once pays off is a mystery actually more interesting than anything in the film. How bad is it?

For no reason except that the Bekmambetov is Russian and the city has plenty of bizarre architecture, which looks great on film, The Darkest Hour is set in Moscow. You might suppose, then, that the main characters would be Russian … or have a Russian grandmother to visit … or eat Russian dressing on their salad. But, no. They're jet-set American hipsters, played by Hirsch and Max Minghella, who hopped on a flight to (1) seal a deal with a Russian media company that will expand the reach of their smart phone partying/dating service and (2) use said smart phone service to party it up in a world city where they can meet some hot, Slavic chicks.

Right? Wrong. The chicks they meet, played by Olivia Thirlby and Rachael Taylor, are also American — and also about as dumb and superficial as sheetrock. After easily getting scammed out of their own software with a greedy Swedish businessman ("Damn those dirty Europeans!"), our two American knuckleheads narrowly escape destruction by invisible aliens only to find themselves stuck in a basement with their foe and their would-be one-night-stands ("Cock-blocked in the Eastern Bloc!") for days? weeks? Long enough for them to emerge, hungry and sun-shy, into a city — possibly, a world — drained of all its life.

If you were to guess the rest, you'd probably be about 97% correct, since it's fair to assume that even if you actually stitched together a movie out of the most predictable scenes in past alien invasion flicks you'd still wind up with a film 3% better than The Darkest Hour. Because even when it is moments away from ending, and you're quite nearly free of the seat you so naively paid for, a fleeting reminder strikes you that even those abysmally intolerable M. Night Shyamalan movies (e.g. The Happening) had surprise endings so ridiculous that you couldn't have seen them coming (because you're not insane). Not The Darkest Hour. It just, you know, ends.

Read more about:

Leave a comment