Main cast: Sophie Thatcher (Cee), Jay Duplass (Damon), Pedro Pascal (Ezra), Sheila Vand (Inumon), Andre Royo (Oruf), and Anwan Glover (Mikken)
Directors: Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell
Cee, a teenager, accompanies her father Damon on a gig to mine some gems from alien-like… eggs? Things? Damon has discovered the location of a huge – and by that, we mean huge – nest of such gems, and if they succeed, they will never have to worry about money again. Alas, their ship experiences a malfunction and crashes far away from the designated meeting point, and shortly after, they encounter another prospector, Ezra, and his buddy. In a standoff, Ezra’s buddy and Damon are killed, leaving the young lady and Damon to find a way to work together to reach the meeting point and get out of this planet with their lives intact.
Prospect is a space Western, no doubt about it. There are obvious Western tropes here, as well as planetary equivalents to outlaws and native Americans. Unfortunately for Cee, there are no clear cut good or bad guys here – in fact, even her father himself wasn’t exactly a saint – so she has to figure out fast whether she can count on Damon to have her back.
This is one of the rare films in which Pedro Pascal doesn’t play the bad guy, and I must say, it’s a nice tall glass of water. His morally grey character nonetheless has plenty of charming moments, and really, it’s not hard to soften up to a fellow who looks like Mr Pascal here. Oh, be quiet. I have to say, he really emotes the hell out of his role, and as a result, Damon’s face can be a fascinating tapestry of ever changing human emotions. There is especially one memorable scene in which Cee has to amputate his arm, and he bravely tells her that he will never feel any pain during the process. But just look at his face as he talks, mostly to reassure Cee more than anything else, and listen to the hitches and catches in his voice – I can’t help wincing and grimacing in imagined pain even as – and I hate to admit this – I think I’m developing a severe crush on Agent Whiskey here.
This movie is also a nice case study on how to make a pretty decent film on a small budget. The limitations of how much these folks can spend on props and sets are obvious just from looking at the film, but even if the movie doesn’t have the grand CGI that would need millions of dollars that it can’t afford, it still forges ahead to the finish line with a confident kind of aplomb. The pacing is solid, the atmosphere is good – most of this movie is just solid.
I have to deduct one oogie, sadly, for the choice of leading lady. I don’t know whether it’s Sophie Thatcher’s fault or the directors’ for not giving her the proper pointers, but I don’t think there is even a single instance where Cee exhibits the correct facial expression and adopts the right tone that fits the circumstance that she is in. Her reaction to her father’s death is bewilderingly muted, and it’s not like she has delayed reaction or anything like that – she spends the bulk of this movie acting like she’s just an annoyed miss forced to go on a school trip when she’d rather be doing something else. It’s as if this lady believes that she is in a completely different movie that the one that Damon and the rest are in, and as a result, this movie never manages to develop a realistic bond between her and the man. The chemistry just isn’t there.
All things considered, though, Prospect is still worth a peek, if only to see Pedro Pascal in an occasional non-villainous role.
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