starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Charlize Theron
screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof
directed by Ridley Scott
by Walter Chaw It's time, probably long past time, to admit that Ridley Scott is nothing more or less than Tim Burton: a visual stylist at the mercy of others to offer his hatful of pretty pictures something like depth. If either one of them ever made a great film (and I'd argue that both have), thank the accident of the right source material and/or editor, not these directors, whose allegiance is to their own visual auteurism rather than any desire for a unified product. For Scott, the conversation essentially begins and ends for me with Alien, Blade Runner, and Black Hawk Down (for most, it's just the first two, with a political nod to Thelma & Louise)--genre films, all, and each about the complications of mendacity given over to lush, stylish excess: the gothic, biomechanical haunted house of Alien's Nostromo mining vehicle and its hapless band of blue-collar meatbags; the meticulously detailed Angelino diaspora of Blade Runner and its Raymond Chandler refugee; and Mark Bowden's Mogadishu, transformed in Black Hawk Down into a post-apocalyptic hellscape. Again, there's that utility. Without it, Scott's films are impenetrable monuments to style, as smooth and affectless as a perfume advertisement--and the more you watch them, the less memorable that style becomes.