Review: ‘Atomica’ – A Sci-Fi That Struggles to Maintain Interest

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In the not-so-distant future, the world’s main source of power comes from several nuclear facilities run by a corporation called Auxilisun. Abby Dixon (“Riverdale’s” Sarah Habel), a safety inspector, sets off to a remote desert location after she becomes aware of the communications going offline and power glitches. The desert location is in the middle of a red zone and nothing and no one is available for miles. Without proper protection from the outside world, Abby could be exposed to radiation poisoning.

Abby is highly confident in the work and methods of her organization. So much so, that she finds it extremely odd and troubling when she gets to the facility and only finds one of the two employees working. Robinson (Dominic Monaghan) raises her suspicions from the start and Abby, in her video reports, questions how he was able to be hired given his lack of knowledge about certain aspects of the job. He’s insistent that his colleague, a nuclear containment scientist named Zek (Tom Sizemore), has gone into the red zone, never to return. Things get especially fishy when Abby discovers that the communications and power outages were done manually and the reality of her situation sinks in as she fights to escape the facility.

“Atomica” has a lot of potential, but it certainly takes its time getting started and it becomes hard to completely invest in the story when it feels so choppy. We’re also expected to believe that Abby, who’s a hardcore believer in Auxilisun’s mission and a loyal employee, didn’t know that the company was the cause of the radiation poisoning and subsequent deaths of an entire local town? It might have been swept under the rug, but she finds it in a news story later in the film and it’s difficult to let this information slide given that it’s the entire reason behind another character’s actions. Given her knowledge of the company she works for, it doesn’t make sense that she would have somehow missed this very pertinent fact.

The movie spends half of its time trying to convince us that there’s something not quite right, but the music is constantly there to remind us that, yes, of course something isn’t right. It’s getting to a place of action that it spends the least time on. It also uses every excuse to unclothe Abby and puts her in situations where Robinson becomes a peeping tom and creepy stalker. This adds nothing to the movie and only makes the male gaze, and the fact that Abby is very much alone in a facility with a man who could physically hurt or harass her at any time, all the more pronounced. It’s enough to send shivers down the spine and question the need for it to begin with. Robinson is portrayed as strange and eerie enough without the additional need to strip Abby down for no reason.

There’s nothing that truly pulls you into “Atomica.” The script is slow and there’s a lot of exposition that ultimately draws out the plot before anything significant happens. Abby is a decently well-rounded character, but the setting and lack of momentum dulls the moments when her character could have truly shined. Because the film’s setting is so isolated from the outside world, the ending doesn’t have a satisfactory payoff and leaves a lot to be desired.   

40%
40%
Uninteresting

There’s nothing that truly pulls you into "Atomica." The script is slow and there’s a lot of exposition that ultimately draws out the plot before anything significant happens.

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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