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The Tank (2017) Review

Sci-fi psychological thriller has an interesting premise and strong second half.

The Tank is a 2017 sci-fi thriller about six people who enter an Isolated Confined Environment with the mission to simulate a trip to Mars though things don’t go quite as planned.

Of all the planets in our Solar System, ain’t none get attention in sci-fi like good ol’ Mars, setting for all kinds of space mayhem. Historically, few have really made a trip to the Red Planet all that interesting, most special effects heavy, big budget movies with not much in the way of story or characters. But at least they got us there. Now comes Kellie Madison‘s The Tank, a psychological thriller about Mars that doesn’t actually go to the planet but rather have a crew prepare for it.

Set in an isolated compound in Antarctica, six members of a training team test the capacity of being in an enclosed space for nearly two years, not so much duplicating actual space travel (there’s gravity in Antarctica after all), but rather human endurance in such an extreme condition. The crew begin okay, excited and cooperative about the mission but things begin to break down as time passes and personalities fall into conflict, prodded by the project’s leaders who instigates a series of ‘tests’ that put further stress on the group, leading to a total collapse when one member slips well past insanity.

The Tank
The Tank, 2017 © Glacier Films

It’s a little hard to know the point of The Tank, a movie that lacks a lot of credibility with a cast of characters that would in any real life situation never get selected for such a mission, nearly all of them saddled with some kind of curious trait that would surely be red flags for those choosing such a crew. From the team leader Will (Jack Davenport), who recently lost a young daughter to an accident and wife who committed suicide, to Thom (Christopher Redman), who is a troubled fellow suffering seizures, to Luke (Erik King), a Christian fanatic who talks to himself and believes he’s actually on Mars. It’s a stretch, but one that somehow gets easier to overlook the more it presses on.

Given all that, there’s something sort of compelling with what’s going on, especially if we bypass the Mars premise and concentrate on the personalities, which is really a lost-on-a-deserted-island-Lord-of-the-Flies story more than a space movie. Madison (in her feature film debut) is far more concerned with the humanity of it all than the accuracy of it, and in that respect, finds some moments that work well. The claustrophobic setting and dark tone keep much of the latter half of the film pretty tense as the bodies pile up and the situation gets ever more dangerous. Madison, who co-wrote the script with Nicky Hawthorne, mixes a few bits of gore and a jump scare or two (this is not a horror film) with a lot of good dialogue, even if the action is purposefully slower paced.

The Tank is not a particularly challenging film even as it looks to be. It’s about a catastrophic failure and the people who suffered for it, even dabbling a bit with those responsible (a cameo of sorts from Christopher McDonald). However, despite a stiff start, it does manage to gain some footing and offer a few rewards before reaching its end. An ambitious little experiment, fans of the genre will have plenty to savor. It’s not the Mars movie you might be hoping for, but for a marooned in space-themed kind of film, does the trick.

The Tank (2017) Review

Movie description: The Tank is a 2017 sci-fi thriller about six people who enter an Isolated Confined Environment with the mission to simulate a trip to Mars though things don't go quite as planned.

Director(s): Kellie Madison

Actor(s): Marguerite Moreau, Jack Davenport, Brad William Henke

Genre: Drama

  • Our Score
User Rating 3 (16 votes)