A wingless angel, Michael, must organize a last stand against an army of possessed humans in this apocalyptic thriller that gets a lot of mileage out of a classic Western premise.
The flick opens with a nod to “The Terminator,” as our hero falls to earth in Los Angeles. Firstly, he clips his own wings before raiding a warehouse for some armaments. A pair of L.A.’s finest show up to stop him but are easily dispatched. Lacking wings, Michael is happy to take off in the squad car.
Meanwhile, the denizens of a desolate rest stop in Nevada have more customers than usual on this day. Turns out the mall got built further up the road and left Hanson with a working diner and garage, but no steady business. He is trying to make the best of it while fighting addictions to alcohol and cigarettes. His son, Jeep, is chomping at the bit to move on, while his waitress, Charlie, is eight months pregnant and going nowhere. Their customers are an equally fractured lot and include a family of three in which mom and dad are at war with their teenaged daughter and a young man who doesn’t see enough of the son he fathered.
This bunch needs direction, and they get it when an elderly woman stops by for breakfast. She is quick to cast judgment on Charlie’s plight, but that is nothing compared to her ability to grown razor sharp teeth and scale the ceiling like Spiderman. She uses the teeth to great effect on one customer before she gets shot to pieces. Everyone freaks out and they try to make a run for it, but a large cloud in the distance turns out to be a plague of flies and they are run off the road.
Our group returns to the diner and meets Michael. He reveals that they are only at the start of this nightmare. Another angel is on the way and he is sending an army of possessed humans ahead as an invading force. They want the baby that Charlie is carrying. The worst news is that humans have been abandoned as the favorite of God’s creations, so the baby, who may set us on the right path when it grows up, has been made superfluous.
The army arrives and the group must fight them off as they try to break into the diner. What follows is a classic siege movie and it makes for exciting cinema, as our diner patrons must rally to save the unborn child at any cost. This gives everyone a reason to set aside their shortcomings and unite. Unfortunately, this is a war and people may achieve, redemption but they won’t be around long enough to reap any satisfaction from it.
You can call this an action movie or a horror flick, but what it really winds up being is a fresh take on the classic western “Rio Bravo.”
Howard Hawks (“The Thing”) made the film in 1959, so it is appropriate that it be remade 50 years later. In the original film, John Wayne starred as a small town sheriff who must recruit the town drunk and a crippled deputy to fight off a gang of thieves when he arrests one of them. The ensuing siege makes up most of the film and all of the misfits help the Duke regain their self-respect as right makes up for might. John Carpenter remade it as “Assault on Precinct 13” in 1976, and it proved to be the right formula to showcase his talents. There you had a skeleton crew at a closed precinct manning up to take down a violent gang that wants their leader back. Great stuff.
You can’t go wrong with this one, but you’d be well served renting Hawks’ flick, as well as Carpenter’s, for the kind of triple bill that only drive-ins played before the digital age.
2009, rated R.
“I have watched you kill each other over race and greed, waging war over dust and rubble and the words in old books.”
“Alright, there is a safety switch on the side of your weapon. You won’t be needing it.”