Toxic Skies (2009)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Anne Heche, James Tupper, Tobias Slezak, Daniel Bacon, Kevin McNulty, Barclay Hope
Directed by Andrew C. Erin
Have you heard about chemtrails? Mysterious high altitude contrails seen in the sky - sometimes even without benefit of a plane precipitating them - said to contain chemical or biological agents; a favorite conspiracy amongst tin foil hat enthusiasts that believe the US government or the shadow government that secretly runs the US government or the UN or the Illuminati, the shape-changing lizard people, or some other sinister global cabal are seeding the atmosphere with chemical sky tracks as means of population control, changing the atmosphere for purposes of controlling the weather or altering our climate with insidious intent, inducing global dimming for nefarious means, and/or just flat-out biowarfare against the human race. Numerous government and media agencies out to debunk the notions claim these chemtrail theories as just figments of the overactive imaginations of conspiracy nuts, yet like all good conspiracies it continues to flourish this day. One thing I firmly believe that both believers and skeptics alike can agree on is that Toxic Skies is a seriously lame movie.
I do believe Toxic Skies to be the first ever motion picture making the chemtrail conspiracy theories the centerpiece of its storyline. More like the catalyst rather than the centerpiece now that I think about it; we're hardly ever even shown any chemtrails in the sky. I'm sure "The X-Files" in its heyday could have made a gripping episode about chemtrails. Even the current Fox show "Fringe" could probably make a compelling thriller out of it. Toxic Skies, on the other hand, is a textbook case in how not to make either a conspiracy thriller or disease-of-the-week television movie. Tension is rendered nil thanks to the conspiracy thriller side of the plot not truly kicking in until the film is nearly an hour old and the horrors of an unstoppable contagious disease outbreak get downplayed in favor of endless scenes of Anne Heche trying to ameliorate the discomfort of the infected. I would not be shocked to learn most of the meager budget was blown hiring Heche and the whole cheap affair was shot in a single building there are so few sets. Toxic Skies is so stodgy, so simple-minded, so hung up on talky human melodrama that all it lacks is Kelli Martin in the lead role and the insertion of some "Touched by an Angel" spirituality to fully achieve the old school Pax Network movie-of-the-week vibe it clearly aims for.
Anne Heche is several McNuggets short of a Happy Meal in real-life - she claims to talk to space aliens and has an alternate god-like personality known as Celestia - so her turning up as the lead in a movie with a plot straight out of the Art Bell playbook is hardly surprising. Heche is Dr. Tessa Martin, America's #1 virologist babe. Saving patients infected with life-threatening viruses is her top priority. We know this because a nurse tells us her own two-year old died of meningitis years earlier and because it felt like nearly two-thirds of Toxic Skies consisted of scenes of Dr. Martin exhibiting her top notch bedside manner treating and comforting outbreak victims with an Oprah-esque grace.
A Spokane, Washington hospital is beginning to fill up with victims of a lethal new viral strain, an outbreak that eventually spreads to other cities as we're told via hearsay. Tessa is approached by a guy named Jack who knows the truth about the viral outbreak. He can prove chemtrails are responsible, if only he can get her to test samples of jet fuel from five major airlines. Jack we learn is also doggedly determined to expose the truth because his brother was murdered to keep this truth from becoming public knowledge. One almost has to wonder why there was even a need for this Jack character given how quickly Dr. Martin is willing to accept his chemtrail ramblings. Probably because the script had Anne Heche too busy playing CDC Florence Nightingale to engage in a warehouse shootout later on.
Jack is assisted by an anti-government conspiracy theorist, a guy that looks like he should be a member of the Montana Militia or at the very least an old redneck likely to have shown up to the 912 Washington D.C. protest with an AK-47 and a sign comparing Obama to Hitler.
Always remember that in Hollywood movies the fringe elements turn out to be the truthsayers. If what's been going on in our country lately were the subject of a motion picture the ending would reveal that President Obama really is an Islamic jihadist from Kenya secretly plotting to destroy democracy in America before revealing himself to be the Antichrist and Glenn Beck would be the right-all-along dashing leading man that exposes the truth and saves the world from unholy tyranny with the assistance of love interest Julia Roberts.
Dr. Martin begins making noise about chemtrails which prompts a visit from the most insincere sounding corporate exec you're ever likely to see in a movie like this. This guy is fully prepared to give her a debriefing as to why Jack is an untrustworthy kook and the fine people at Keller Pharmaceuticals are your friends.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
The Keller corporation was contracted by the military to put chemicals in jet fuel designed to spread chemtrails that would fight global warming but the greedy corporate exec decided to save money by cutting costs on the chemicals leading to the spreading of toxins in the sky that cause immune system breakdowns. Keller is so evil and greedy they even have a vaccine that they won't make public because to go public with it would be tantamount to admitting their guilt. Rather a lame conspiracy if you ask me. I bet even Art Bell would be letdown with this revelation.
*** SPOILER OVER ***
Perhaps next the makers of Toxic Skies can treat us to an autism thriller starring Jenny McCarthy as a determined pediatrician and mother of an autistic child that spends the majority of the movie lovingly treating kids afflicted with autism before going after the medical companies whose vaccines she believes are responsible for the epidemic of autistic children and finally forcing a confession from a vaccine manufacturing executive by threatening to inject him with a contaminated cholera shot.
1 1/2 out of 5
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