Rubikon's sci-fi morality play is stranded in orbit

Rubikon's sci-fi morality play is stranded in orbit ...

Rubikon, a sci-fi thriller about the fate of the Earth, is set aboard an orbiting space station, but the stakes aren''t much bigger or the canvas is much less, thanks to a handful of actors. They look out of their windows at a world that is dying due to toxic fog. They think they should go down to the surface and try to save humanity, but they aren''t sure they can bring themselves to leave the safety of their orbiting cocoon.

Rubikon''s modest cast and minimal production may have more to do with its budget and origin than it was created before the pandemic, with topics like global climate change and the European refugee crisis on her mind. But as she was shooting during the second wave of coronavirus, the similarities became unquestionable for her and her actors, and they are unquestionable for now.

Rubikon is a film about how isolation influences insular attitudes and how easy it is for your horizons to shrink even when you see the Earth curvature from your bedroom window. We can all relate. On the moral level, however, and this is very much a morality play in the guise of a contained, pressure-cooker thriller, which is about controlling your responsibility for yourself and your family. The difficulty is, the metaphor is so severely exaggerated, with the future of humanity

The film is set for 2056, when air quality is so bad that the upper echelons of society live in climate-controlled geodomes. Society has broken to the extent that nations have separated and replaced by corporate organizations. Hannah is joined by a scientist and environmental activist Dimitri Krylow, who worked in the Rubikon space.

At the start of the film, something happens to Hannah and Gavins shuttlecraft''s AI docking machine for no apparent reason other than to demonstrate Hannah''s military skill and sang-froid skills, and Lauritschs sure hand as a director with suspense set-pieces. Several times during the film, she shows she can consolidate and release tension with an unflashy economy, using spare edits and letting the actors and the sound design do the heavy lifting. Rubikon is at its fleeting

As a drama, the script appears to be in a hurry to go nowhere in its early stages. Lauritsch and her co-screenwriter are all at sea, and the audience is confused about the details. Things settle a little when half of the crew (including Dimitris son) departs the station, and Lauritsch can focus on the three who remain: Hannah, Gavin, and Dimitri.

As cataclysms fade, the perceptions on Earth have a long way left. Obviously things are dire down there, but at some point they become even more destructive. As a matter of fact, viewers must process silent, eloquent reaction shots and snatches of fine, hand-waving footage. The Earth''s trajectory is changing from cloud-streaked blue to glowering brown.

As the Rubikons crew get their air curdle and darken, Lauritsch constructs a neat parallel to this, and is putting another on the way. This also demonstrates how much she does not grasp the story''s credibility for the sake of her message.

The algae cultures have a lot of value to the survival of the human race on Earth, but according to Lauritsch''s arrangement, the characters should debate whether they should fly them down at all. Gavin, the environmentalist, believes they should, and Dimitri, the scientist, is given contrived reasons for wanting to stay aboard the Rubikon. Hannah, the pragmatic operative, is caught in the middle.

Richter demonstrates his compassion for Hannah''s supposed dilemma. But at no point does it really seem like a real moral question, and yet few of Hannah''s choices are true. On the one hand: an selfish, hollow, haunting existence as a vestigial threesome orbiting humanity''s graveyard. Id like to believe that they would not hesitate the way they do it.

To enlist herself from this deus ex machinas, Lauritsch brings two separate deus, neither of whom feels earned. Rubikons plot crash-lands as its sincere intentions are left spinning fruitlessly in space, looking for a way back down.

Rubikon launches in theaters and on demand on July 1.