Scintilla (AKA The Hybrid) centres on a team of mercenaries, led by world-weary Powell (John Lynch), as they attempt to infiltrate a secret research facility. They soon discover a far more dangerous and disturbing truth about what’s going on there that may ultimately shape the world as they know it. Powell must try and keep his team alive and carry out the mission for which he was paid to complete.
Scintilla is a film that wears its influences on its sleeve, with shades of everything from ‘70s British sci-fi like The Man Who Fell to Earth and classic Doctor Who to recent films like Doomsday and Outpost to even gritty post-apocalyptic video games such as Bioshock and Half-Life, but never able to get out of the shadow of its obvious predecessors to find its own sense of identity. It doesn’t even work as any sort of homage but rather feels like a lazy retreading of previous entertainments that covered the same ground in a far superior fashion.
It spends far too long setting things up but without sufficiently fleshing out its characters, each of the mercenaries entirely interchangeable with the exception of Powell but who’s only given personality by Lynch’s admirably committed performance. However, we never come to truly care about him or any of the other characters, whether they complete their mission or, indeed, live or die. This is a crippling issue considering we spend so long in their company and is down to the wet noodle of a script that’s littered with failed attempts at comic relief, overly expository dialogue and a lack of any sort of central theme onto which the viewer can grab.
The film feels like it goes on for way longer than it’s relatively brisk 90 minute runtime due to its surprisingly lethargic pace, uninspired action and lackadaisical attempts at scares. There’s simply no momentum to any of it, lacking a much needed sense of anticipatory anxiousness about what’s around the next corner or how this ill-fated mission may turn out.
To be fair, the film does show a more creative hand in the latter stages raising potential interesting ideas when it finally gets around to dealing with its questions of morality surrounding illegal and hideous experiments. However, it’s a case of far too little too late and it signs off on an intriguing note that makes you wish the whole movie had been about that rather than the utterly derivative military mission shenanigans that takes up most of it. Avoid.