By: John M Jerva
The Review: 2020 was certainly a historic year in terms of what we as a human race had to deal with. Even though most of that year’s theater driven movies were delayed, we still had a variety of decent indie films to keep us entertained as there really wasn’t much else to occupy our down time. I’ve mentioned numerous times that the indie action market really stepped up that year and delivered the goods in terms of high-octane excitement. Streaming was our major source to find these films and a few broke from the pact.
With that I give you my review for the 2020 sci-fi action thriller Monsters of Man which hails from the creative mind of filmmaker Mark Toia who really took the reins and made one exciting action flick. Toia, who produced, wrote and helmed the film, brings us a cross between Predator and Terminator and I couldn’t help but think of the awesome 80’s movie called Robowar which starred Reb Brown when I was watching the film. The project started out as a crowd funded campaign and for the smaller budget it had, it looks very polished and sleek. I actually wanted to check this one out when it first hit but I’m glad I finally sought it out as it has something distinct to offer.
In terms of plot, there’s nothing really new here but it’s OK as it throws it back to the era of the movies I mentioned and pays a little tribute to them at the same time. The storyline pretty much revolves around a corrupt CIA agent, played by Neil McDonough who is always fantastic anything that he does, who gets into business with a robotics company to create some pretty bad ass looking robots in an effort to terminate drug cartels and other such nefarious folk. Unfortunately for the innocents that populate this territory, when the robots are sent into service, they go haywire and begin slaughtering villagers in a remote jungle of the Golden Triangle.
This is all witnessed by a group of doctors and, of course, the bad guys can’t have any witnesses, so the AI killers set out to eradicate them with extreme prejudice. On hero duties here is Mason played by Brett Tutor who just happens to be an ex-Navy SEAL and it falls onto him to try to get everyone to safety before the robotic killing machines destroy everything in their path. Just like the movies that this one is emulating; you know the good guys are between a rock and a hard place even though they’re bad ass operators.
Monsters of Man knows what kind of movie it wants to be and there is no shortage of action as massive amounts of ammo are spent in the film’s running time. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there is some rad hard R rated carnage to be had and the mayhem on display is pretty impressive. The sound effects and visuals aren’t too shabby either for an indie thriller and like I said, the actual robotic killers are pretty effective and look good on screen.
Neil McDonough happens to be one of my favorite character actors and he elevates anything that he is in. Whether he’s playing a good or bad role, he brings his A game and always has a great screen presence. Here he plays the General and his character is pretty damn evil, and you can tell that he’s having fun with the limited time he’s on screen. McDonough certainly brings some star cred to the proceedings and here he delivers once again.
Aside from the main cast which includes Tutor, Jose Rosete as Boller, David Haverty as Kroger and Haapaniemi as Jordan who all do a good job, I really couldn’t tell you the rest as they really didn’t leave that much of an impression on me and the doctors aren’t very sympathetic so when they fall, I wasn’t really affected by it. An honorable mention does go out to Ly Ty who plays Leap as he is the real emotional conduit for the film. He certainly can grieve on screen with the best of them and he does give it his all-in-one scene of the movie.
The moral of not messing around with forces we can’t control is nothing new, but it does add a sense of dramatics to the film, and I give credit to Toia for making the movie more than just running and gunning. Just like in some bigger budgeted films, one of the robots becomes self-aware and proceeds to question its mission and what it’s there for. This subplot serves up some of the more dramatic moments until the bloodshed commences in the second half.
The action set pieces are pretty ambitious for a film that was mainly able to be completed due to crowd funding and it gets bloody and brutal so if that’s your cup of tea, then you’ll enjoy the apocalyptic feel of the finale. There’s firepower aplenty and the final count of ammunition spent must have been some sort of a world’s record. The second half does get a little drawn out and some might feel that it gets repetitive, but I was enjoying the mass casualties displayed before the end credits rolled. We don’t get clearly enough hard R rated action and mayhem nowadays so it’s always refreshing when a movie, especially an indie flick, rises to the occasion and delivers the adult oriented goods. It gets pretty unapologetic in terms of the level of violence, and it almost reaches horror movie limits.
Overall, Monster of Man, won’t win any awards but it does what it’s supposed to and that’s satisfy a crowd looking for their next action fix. There aren’t many memorable characters but the few who are deliver and I believe the audience will root for them to survive. The action is brutal and hard r rated galore so go in with the right mindset and you might enjoy what this one has to offer in regard to action, story, and morality.
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