Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Black Noise: Hear the Buzz

These special operators are about to experience a form of “Havana Syndrome” that builds to a Scanners-like finish. They are not used to this kid of warfare or the mysterious men-in-black who are waging it against them in Philippe Martinez’s Black Noise, which releases on-demand this Friday.

Ryan’s team of mercs are enjoying some well-deserved R&R in the Caribbean when their business agent forces them back into action. Apparently, the client needs extraction from Esperanza, a nearby island that is the ultra-exclusive home to some of the world’s richest people—or at least it was. When they get there, they find eerily deserted.

At first, the rest of the team was a little wary about Jordan, who had been away for a while. The exact reasons are unspecified, but some form of PTSD is clearly implied. However, he has the incredibly good fortune to be searching a walk-in freezer when the nasty initial signal is broadcast. As a result, he is spared the ringing ears, persistent buzzing, and hallucinations that immediately start plaguing the rest of the team.

The clear-headed Jordan detects signs of something stalking them, but it almost seems like it is out of focus. Regardless, it is clear his comrades are in a bad way, especially when one of their heads explodes.

Martinez and Sean-Michael Argo and Leigh Scott never fully spell out what is going on, which is okay. They do a nice job showing how the team instinctively falls back on their training. Martinez’s also stages an impressive climatic fight scene between Jordan and the bad guys, whoever or whatever they might be. The film also gets credit for likening its sinister business to “Havana Syndrome,” by name.

Unfortunately, the cast largely underwhelms. Alex Pettyfer fares better than the rest as the tough, taciturn Jordan, but he looks so much like Jackson Rathbone, who plays fellow merc Leo, who has a comparable face full of facial hair, it gets downright confusing. Wayne Gordon also looks seriously manly as Ryan, but his character is written paper-thin.

Still, Martinez’s execution is way slicker than what you get from an average VOD action movie (and I would know). It has a weird vibe that actually works for it, but the characterization could have used some punching up. There will be worse options when it hits free streamers, but do not spend your hard-earned money on it—when
Black Noise releases this Friday (11/3) on digital.