Before the bleak time referred to in the title, Ben and Sean (Max Minghella and Emile Hirsch) arrive in Moscow, get screwed in a major business deal, and meet some hotties (Olivia Thirlby and Rachael Taylor) in a bar. Just as things are getting cozy with their new friends the lights go dim. In another kind of movie that would mean a start to some hot and heavy romance but the only sparks that fly here are from the evil aliens who have invaded earth and use electrical impulses to disintegrate the puny humans in their path. The new friends band together to fight against the ETs, collecting a ragtag bunch of high wattage commandoes and hangers-on to form an Electrical Resistance Army to stand against the creatures.
“The Darkest Hour” could easily have been titled “The Dorkiest Hour” as it contains every nerd cliche from almost every sci fi film ever made. There’s the obvious “Red Shirt” character, doomed to die with only a few lines of dialogue under his belt.
The other characters aren’t exactly blessed with great dialogue. An endless stream of cliches–“We can’t be the only ones left!”–all have a been-there-heard-that feel.
Then there’s the human dustification annihilation scenes lifted from “War of the Worlds,” and the eerily empty city streets borrowed from “I Am Legend” and “28 Days Later,” are just a couple of the movie homages that make up this science fiction pastiche. The entire thing plays out like a cut and paste job.
Still, cut and paste jobs are nothing new in movies and even the most cliche film can be rescued if it has compelling characters. Unfortunately “The Darkest Hour” falls down on that score as well. I’m sure they all have character names but they’re so uninteresting they may as well be called Generic Girl Number 1 or Unexpected Hero with an Attitude. Quick! Somebody call Central Casting! Some of their stock characters have escaped their cages!
“The Darkest Hour” almost lives up to its name. It’s a dark, dull way to spend, not hours, but ninety minutes.