End of the world, for real. No heroes to save the day. No reprieve. A big-ass meteor has hit in the North Atlantic, and Australia has 12 hours before the planet-scouring firestorm hits. (There may be some scientific problems with this scenario: an Earth-killing strike would perhaps wrack even the other side of the planet instantly with unendurable quakes and the like? But never mind.) Everyone has known for quite a while that this has been coming, and James (Nathan Phillips: Snakes on a Plane) has plans: to be as wasted as possible when armageddon hits, because “it’s gonna hurt a lot and I don’t wanna feel it.”
This requires that he abandon his girlfriend Zoe (Jessica De Gouw) in these final hours in order to get across Perth to be with his other girlfriend, Vicky (Kathryn Beck), at one last orgy. James is such a great guy that he hesitates to rescue Rose (Angourie Rice: Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie), who’s about 10 years old, from a couple of pedophiles intent on making the little girl’s final hours a living hell. But don’t worry: The impending end of the world and one cute little blonde girl in distress will finally make James experience all the feels.
Kudos to Australian writer and director Zak Hilditch for creating the most ridiculous example yet of Inventing A Scenario In Which A Man Might Legitimately Have Emotions. (Don’t all these male filmmakers realize that positing that men are incapable of emotion except in extreme cases of extremis is a fairly anti-man thing to posit?) How much more interesting might the end of the world be from the perspectives of Zoe or Vicky or James’s mother (Lynette Curran: Oscar and Lucinda), with whom he has a brief last visit? All these women have no problem expressing themselves, which should be a plus when time is running out for expressing anything at all… and yet this is perceived by James — and, by extension, intended to be perceived by the audience — as a bit embarrassing. (Rose at least gets a bit of a story, though she doesn’t have quite the capacity to appreciate what is about to happen.)
There are some striking moments here — the final shot is haunting — but this is very similar to other films we’ve seen before: On the Beach, Last Night, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Though it’s nowhere near as melancholy or as bittersweet as any of them.