Ascendant is one of those movies that’s just as hard to write about it as it is deceptively straightforward.A movie that relies entirely on it unfolding and revealing its tale in unexpected ways, the ‘Antaine Furlong’s ambitious sci-fi action / thriller is a first testament to the Australian filmmaker’s daring vision and cunning intelligence a feat

The elevator pitch premise of a young woman trapped in an elevator (the irony), some 120 floors above, is one we’ve seen used in different ways; the attempted infiltration of Jodie Foster’s safe haven in Panic Room, the claustrophobia of Ryan Reynolds’ underground coffin in Buried and the base of the Saw franchise are all prime examples of this here, however, Furlong took this singular setting and transformed him with a mentality reminiscent of a more supernaturally inclined plot, something that infinitely elevates the thesis

Initially a one-man show around young environmentalist Aria Wolf (Charlotte Best, fully engaging the role with an emotional tenacity reminiscent of talents like Florence Pugh), Ascendant wastes no time throwing her audience into the thickness of the intensity Waking up in an elevator – slightly technologically advanced in design to suggest a nearby environment – without remembering how it got there, the film immediately gains an emotional investment from her audience as she is pushed to the physical and psychological edge of her supposed limits with the elevator descending violently into its contained cage at one point

It’s because Aria isn’t sure how she got there but who she is in general compared to her past that gives Ascendant its emotional side to The Furlong storyline – a collaboration with Kieron Holland – uses that narrative trope and forces Aria to face what she thought she had forgotten, allowing the singular elevator setting to open to its full potential by introducing a duo of characters linked to discovering who she is is really; Jonny Pasvolsky and Alex Menglet, as her father and foe, respectively, interacting with her via a surveillance camera draws more on Furlong’s creativity on how to give an expansive mindset to a claustrophobic-feeling production

Aria’s past is one where the film adopts its most supernatural inclinations, and while it may seem extremely uneven from her initial setup – even though she’s trapped in this specially designed elevator is reinforced as is. – it’s sort of rather blends organically into the proceedings The boldness of this narrative means Ascendant’s intention to be the jump point in a trilogy of stories could make this particular outing unfinished , but even though we are denied other narratives – and given Australia’s current penchant for rewarding locally made films with significant sums of money returns, it would be a shame if this steadfast effort was overlooked – Furlong closes the film with a type of definition that places satisfaction alongside its open-ending temperament

A film that harnesses its strength through its ability to surprise, both in its story and its psychology, the complex effects of Ascendant – some digital renderings are mind-boggling – and faithful performances – Menglet indulges in villainy of his character, while Best makes up for his theatricality with a simple conviction – keep him from succumbing to his own ambition.Another attestation of what Australian filmmakers can achieve if they are confident in their visions, Ascendant should be the point of departure for Furlong as a storyteller and as a film series that revel in its futuristic appeal

Film critic with a fondness for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror films, nurturing a desire to be a face of entertainment news

Ascendant

World News – AU – Film Review: Ascendant harnesses its strength through its ability to surprise both with its history and psychology – The AU Review

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