Outland (February 9/02)
Outland casts Sean Connery as a futuristic space marshal… so if that premise sounds appealing, you'll probably dig this flick.
On a remote space station near Jupiter, people are offing themselves with startling regularity. William O'Niel (Connery), the newly assigned marshal of the station, struggles to discover why all these men are taking their lives. He soon concludes that the mass suicides are the result of a drug proffered by the head of the company, a number-crunching baddie named Sheppard (Peter Boyle). Sheppard figures that if the men can work a few extra hours at the expense of their own health, that's a sacrifice worth making. O'Niel decides to take on Sheppard, despite the overwhelming odds against him (his subordinates encourage him to drop the issue and Sheppard sends for more men). Finally, the movie becomes High Noon in space, with O'Niel anxiously awaiting the arrival of some badass roughnecks who'd like nothing more than to turn him into a Jupiter pancake.
Outland's been written and directed by Peter Hyams, a thoroughly underrated action director. Hyams is responsible for two of Van Damme's best flicks (Timecop and Sudden Death) and despite the occasional clunker (End of Days), he can usually be counted on to deliver white-knuckle thrills. Outland is no exception, with the highlight appearing in the form of a drawn-out footchase through the dilapidated outpost. The set design in Outland is one of realism, and in that scene, we really get a good look at what is essentially an oil-drilling platform in space. It's dirty, crowded and completely run-down - exactly the way you'd expect such a place to appear.
Not surprisingly, Connery is quite compelling as the lone figure of righteousness while Boyle is effectively sinister as the greedy villain. Outland does falter a bit in the final 45-minutes - a little too much waiting and not enough ass-kicking - but it's otherwise an enjoyable sci-fi action flick. The eventual showdown between Connery and the hired goons is worth the price of a rental alone.