Movie Review: “There Are No Heroes” – A Revolution in Africa

Written by Spencer Sterritt June 15, 2012

Making his feature film debut, director Kyle Stevenson gives us “There Are No Heroes,” a forty minute sci-fi short detailing the resistance movement in Africa after a nuclear meltdown. The ambition and the talent involved is certainly impressive, however the film lacks a certain intensity to take it from good to great.

In South Africa after a nuclear meltdown, everyone suffers from radiation poisoning, and life has deteriorated for many. A company called DARcorp has arrived to provide relief, in the form of anti-radiation pills. But corporate greed quickly takes over and another sharp divide between the rich and the poor is hammered home based on who can afford the best anti-radiation medicine. As a metaphor for the AIDS epidemic the idea of a nuclear meltdown works well, and becomes especially effective as the film teases out the agenda behind DARcorp. They may not have caused the reactor meltdown, but they are quick to capitalize on an opportunity, much like pharmaceutical companies in South Africa.

Sci-Fi on a Smaller Scale

Technically the film is impressive. On what is presumably a small budget Stevenson and his crew have managed to give an appearance of shiny despair to Africa, shooting on relatively isolated streets, and using some sharp effects to demonstrate future technology, though nothing too advanced. The performances of Chanel Smit and Martin Kintu as former lovers capture the quiet desperation of quietly advancing radiation poisoning.

Where the film stumbles is how it deals with the absolutely massive topic of AIDS and economic strife in South Africa. A large portion of the film is spent on Chanel Smit’s character being used by a DARcorp agent to get to Martin Kintu, a freedom fighter. While this would work in a longer film, or a film strictly about them and separate from the subtext, dedicating so much time within such restraints keeps “There Are No Heroes” from really delving into how corporations abuse their power, how they control the media and politicians, and how they prey on suffering. What could have been a sci-fi “The Constant Gardener” ends up being a tweak on “District 9;” still good but lacking in agency.

The film does dip its toes into an interesting idea, about where the line between freedom fighter and terrorist lies. Once that line has been crossed, can you ever go back? Martin makes great pains to stress how his actions, in the form of an anti-DARcorp, keep him as a freedom fighter and not a terrorist, but strictly by fighting for the same cause as the terrorists, where does he fall on that hairpin line?

Under the weight on some tense conversations, and action movie editing, “There Are No Heroes” strays too far from the real problems in Africa, which takes away most of its bite. There are no new insights into how corporations abuse their power, and how the common citizen is affected. Kyle Stevenson has demonstrated his technical prowess, which will still shine in a more detailed and effective way.

My Rating: 7/10


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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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