It’s hard to transport myself back to those days oh so many moons ago and explain exactly what it was that failed to inspire us to rave about the film – the way we did – as we munched pizza and drank sodas afterward. Arguably, the story is vastly deeper than other fare that tickles the fancy of some teenaged minds; and Scott’s visuals – no matter how grand they were – can only carry any flick so far. At some point, we felt, there needed to be a more compelling central story – or, perhaps, some more compelling circumstances – to draw folks in; and we just didn’t think (in our youth) there was enough there.
Years later – and with a helluva lot more life experience under our belts – I’m more inclined to suggest “we get it now.” The script’s ruminations of existence and what that means to each of us just didn’t connect with the young Turks back then; I suspect we were so full of “piss and vinegar” that Roy Batty’s trials and tribulations registered as only a clever idea, not a premise with the kind of sticking energy young minds aspire to. Now, most of us view the story as a deserved classic it’s become, and I just like to think we took the long road to that conclusion.
2022’s Expired (aka Loveland) tries to hit a lot of the same thematic notes (to a degree), but it’s even more languid by comparison and lacks a performance to ground viewers ‘in the moment.’ Suffice it to say that – although I’ve always liked the work of Ryan Kwanten – he’s no Harrison Ford or Rutger Hauer.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the film’s IMDB.com citation:
“In an uncharted future, two hardened souls meet and confront each other with the things they have done and what they have become.”
These films tend to be more about character, thus the special effects – while impressive – tend to get pushed a bit into the background so that audiences get the full measure of a man against the evolving complexities of how science might push us to become different. We’ll have to adapt. We’ll have to make concessions. We’ll have to decide what’s truly important and what matters. Will we want to get ‘microchipped’ to embrace this brave new world or will we cling to our bibles and our guns (as Barack Obama once famously chastised middle Americans)? Will it be out with the old and in with the new … or vice versa?
Writer/director Ivan Sen’s Expired (2022) (aka Loveland) tries in some small way to tap into that whole ‘Tech Noir’ vibe created at the cineplex back in the 1980’s when James Cameron took audiences on a wild ride with his The Terminator (1984). The film kinda/sorta remains a highwater mark on the subject of how machines and humans might inevitably come into conflict; and Expired turns the screw a bit further as it postulates the character of Jack (played by Ryan Kwanten) to be a kinda/sorta next level of evolution of our species (or, at least, an obvious by-product of genetic tinkering). Science has finally found a means to do away with those pesky emotions; and it’s even postulated that removing them from our make-up might very well put us on the road to immortality.
However, Jack’s problems truly begin when the questioning of his own existence (and its intrinsic value or lack thereof) introduces hormones into his body, an act which begins to deconstruct that which he has become, along with his all-too-human flesh. He’s begun to see life and his actions differently, and he’s even lowered some defenses to the point that he’s started falling in love with April (Jillian Nguyen), a very special kind of ‘companion’ whose services he buys. All of this forces him to seek out the advice of famed scientist Dr. Bergman (Hugo Weaving), who just might hold the key to Jack’s future in his private research.
As can happen when films take themselves and their “message” too seriously, Expired expires fairly quickly, and that’s unfortunate. I wanted to like this world and its people. I just didn’t know what it was they were really trying to tell me, and the final reel might have some folks wondering what really happened after all … and that’s never a good place to end a story.
Expired (2022) is produced by Bunya Productions. DVD distribution (for this particular release) is being coordinated by the reliable Lionsgate. As for the technical specifications? Rest assured that all of this looks and sounds very good (though Kwanten’s speeches do get hard to hear at times). As for the special features? Meh. A trailer and a brief making-of short were a bit undercooked, if you ask me.
(Mildly) Recommended, but take note: Expired is really only for die-hard Science Fiction and Fantasy purists as methinks casual viewers aren’t going to know what to make of it … and, honestly, I doubt the die-hard variety will make much more from this laconically paced and staged dramatic musing on eugenics and love in the near future. Performances are occasionally interesting, but as the central plot remains a bit muddled – as does what audiences are to make of it all in the closing moments – I can’t see this one building much of a following over time … but stranger things have happened.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Lionsgate provided me with a complimentary Blu-ray of Expired (2022) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.