1985’s Back To The Future saw a somewhat outcast teen/wannabe rockstar thrown, literally, back in time where he inadvertently disrupts his parents’ fateful meeting; in order to save himself and his family from being erased from the timeline, Marty McFly has to race against the clock, bring his teenage mother and father back together, and get to where a lightning strike will propel his broken time machine back to his own future.
Similarly, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) finds a pair of misfit teenagers on the precipice of failing history class, thus somehow missing out on the opportunity to form a rock band mystically tied to a future utopia; such a looming catastrophe requires an agent from tomorrow to gift these young men with a time machine they can use to pluck notable players from the past they can bring to the present and use in life-changing presentation before the student body.
Lastly, Tremors (1990) saw a pair of day laborers toiling away in obscurity finally deciding to leave ‘small town life’ behind in pursuit of big city riches. But on the day they decide to pull up their stakes and get out of Dodge, a trio of subterranean monsters wreak havoc on their backwater existence, and – lo and behold – they just might be the only two people who can save life as we know it from being served on the proverbial platter.
Into the fray comes Blasted, a 2022 Norwegian production focusing on a pair of young adults whose best days as infamous laser tag champions lay in the past. Did they put down their toy pistols too soon? Are they now just firing blanks? Can they find out one last time if they perhaps have the right stuff to save the day one last time? While this film didn’t quite hit the bullseye, it stayed reasonably close to the mark well enough to get a bit more examination.
(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 my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
“When a former childhood friend crashes Sebastian’s bachelor party and makes it all about himself, only an alien invasion can make them put aside their bad blood and reunite as the kick-ass laser-tag duo they once were.”
I’ve long opined (in this space) that blending Science Fiction and Comedy is a risky business at best, but 2022’s Blasted certainly scores solid points as the latest in the trend of misfits saving the world against alien attack. While its rather formulaic approach never achieves a perfect balance, the end result is palatable enough to give it a mild thumbs up, though it’s still peppered with ideas that don’t quite make perfect sense.
Much of the film’s watchability is owed to the film’s lead players. Axel Bøyum plays Sebastian, a somewhat ill-prepared financial analyst (though it’s never quite clear) who needs to score a major account to get his new career off to a great start. André Sørum plays Kasper, an Elon Musk type millionaire with (apparently) money to spend. When Sebastian’s miserable Power Point presentation fails to impress the famed money man, he desperately goes for broke, instead inviting Kasper to join him and his friends for some wild and crazy antics promised to be the bachelor party to end all bachelor parties. If he can’t woo the mogul with his business smarts, then he’ll entice him via forced friendship.
The problem? Well, Sebastian isn’t exactly an affable guy. He’s a bit of an outcast – a bit of a passive nerd – and the fact that he’s more than a little worrisome about every little detail of his daily existence makes him hard to pair up with. He’s surrounded himself with somewhat similar outcasts (Mathias Luppichini as ‘Audun’ is a dry, unfunny history aficionado, and Eirik Hallert as ‘Pelle’ seems to be a good-natured halfwit who spouts nonsensical maxims as life philosophy), and once this group comes together it's quite obvious they’ve little in common with the jet-setting, ill-tempered tycoon.
Thankfully (or not), Sebastian’s fiancé secretly invites Mikkel to the bachelor’s retreat. Mikkel (played by Fredrik Skogsrud) is a devil-may-care breath of fresh air for the group, an oddball who has given his life over to drinking slushies all day while ‘living the dream’ of pursuing laser tag as a daily profession. In their youth, he and Sebastian were sport champions in their native country; though they’ve gone their separate ways, Mikkel has stayed true to their one-time passion, and his irreverent outlook on things immediately charms Kasper when these other partygoers fail wretchedly.
However, Blasted biggest problem – despite being a touch long at nearly 120 minutes – is that it never quite explains any of the ‘science’ behind its ‘science fiction.’ Though the aliens are apparently tied to some local Norwegian legend, we’re given absolutely zero explanation for what’s and why’s of their being on Earth; and I’ve found that true SciFi junkies require a bit of substance even if it’s only a passable attempt at world-building. It needn’t be grand, but Nordrum’s script gave us nothing.
Furthermore, there’s never any explanation for why laser tag toys actually work like real-life laser guns on this particular species of alien. A thinking person might deduce that it somehow relates to frequencies of light – these aliens appear to be creatures of phosphorescence, so maybe they exist on one stratum while the guns shoot from a different spot in the visible spectrum? But yet late in the picture we’re introduced to a massive lumbering alien insect overlord, and the fact that the laser guns produce a similar effect on it throw that possible scientific explanation out the window … so I guess it’s best to suggest audiences not try to overthink anything in Blasted for fear of destroying what comedy magic it offers, however briefly.
Those quibbles out of the way, the film is, at best, tolerable entertainment, far from perfect. Those elements it does well – the ups and downs of these knuckleheaded moments, some wonderful moments of spraying alien goo, etc. – do serve the picture to their fullest; and there’s even a subplot involving a pregnant local sheriff whose water breaks at the absolute worst time possible that makes for a few laughs. It’s the kind of one-off film that musters just enough goodwill that audiences tend to embrace for a single experience; and still it’s largely void of any logic the moment you try to dissect what it was that truly went on in its just under two hours running time. A trimmer edit might’ve scored higher, but it's hard to tell as I left this one wanting to know a bit more than its team seemed capable of providing.
Otherwise, think of this one as The Hangover meets Men In Black.
Blasted (2022) was produced by Miso Film Norge. The release is currently playing on the streaming behemoth that is Netflix. As for the technical specifications? There are an awful lot of very high-quality sights and sounds for audiences to appreciate.
Mildly recommended. One of the problems in enjoying a foreign comedy that’s dubbed is that English-speaking audiences run the risk of missing some of the finer storytelling details as context occasionally gets ‘lost in translation.’ I can’t help but wonder if that’s the case with Blasted (2022) as not all of its peoples, places, and things make perfect sense; but still there’s a solid sense of family-friendly fun packed in there, making this one worth the time but not deserving a rewatch. As imperfect as it is, the flick maintains a wholesomeness that’s hard to deny.