By David Dent
For his first feature director Stephen Hoque has traded in his usual CV of commercials and short films in favour of an ambitious subject; the potential end of mankind’s existence. And, equally boldly, he’s decided to tell this story with just three main characters and a setting of the UK countryside.
The Professor (Gary MacKay) is a once brilliant, now washed up alcoholic scientist whose Nobel Prize winning days, at the age of 23, are well behind him. The Professor is also the guardian of a couple of secrets; his own and the cube he keeps locked in a secure facility which has enormous, far-reaching powers.
On his tail is Ellen (a Tilda Swinton like Amelia Clay), a professional assassin who has been instructed to capture The Professor and bring him in. And on both their tails is The Guardian (Vincent Vermignon) who has exited from a gigantic pyramid. But once the pair compare notes they realise that there’s more sense in teaming up than being at each other’s throats, and so begins a quest for survival and the outwitting of The Guardian.
There’s a few narrative reveals in this movie that would be unfair to repeat here, suffice to mention that as each brain boggling detail is revealed, the viewer becomes ever more conscious that this is a film of people talking about science and alien worlds rather ponderously, rather than one which has the budget to show them to any great extent.
So what we have is The Prof and Ellen on an extended road trip round the UK while they get to know each other, or at least suss each other out. But the setup isn’t hugely successful in that Hoque really doesn’t develop his characters that much.
I liked the concept of the story, but its scope is way too epic to be successfully delivered by a couple of ordinary souls in a hatchback (McKay and Clay being little more than serviceable in their roles), and so it’s left to the Indian VFX crew ‘Wild’ to pull out some modest topped and tailed set pieces which are more impressive than anything that occurs between them. I can’t fault the director’s ambition but ‘Beyond Existence’ doesn’t really work either as sci fi or drama.
Watch the trailer for Beyond Existence below –