You need to watch the most underrated alien invasion movie on Netflix ASAP
“You can fight back... to your last breath”
Things get interesting when critics and audiences disagree. When the critics applaud a film but it fails to win over the masses, it’s dismissed as highfalutin elitism that doesn’t work for everyone. But when critics dismiss a film that cleans up at the box office, that’s when things get intriguing. Those movies usually have a fascinating X-Factor that speaks to the moviegoing audience, and there’s one on Netflix right now.
Beyond Skyline is a 2017 sci-fi action thriller written and directed by Liam O’Donnell. It’s the sequel to his previous film, Skyline, but you don’t have to watch that one first. Instead of following up on the action in the first installment, Beyond Skyline is set concurrently with its predecessor.
The film follows Mark (Frank Grillo), an LA-based detective as he deals with a sudden alien invasion. He tries to lead an evacuation of the subway train he’s on after it screeches to a halt, but finds people being abducted and slaughtered left and right. Finally, he’s grabbed too, and the rest of the film deals with him trying to make his way back home and come to terms with a new, alien-filled normal.
By making this film parallel to the first, Beyond Skyline fixes a flaw in so many alien invasion movies. Events that large are never isolated, yet so many films deal with just one group of people coping with the catastrophe. Hypothetically, an entire franchise could be created that focuses on just one apocalyptic event, with each film following different people’s journeys.
Calling Skyline a critical failure would be an understatement. “On the opening weekend with my father in town, my wife and I drove him to the Mann’s Chinese to see it with a bunch of friends,” O’Donnell told Den of Geek. “On the drive there I was refreshing Twitter and just seeing tweet after tweet saying it was the worst movie ever made. So by the time I got there I couldn’t bring myself to go in and went across the street to a bar instead.”
Beyond Skyline is a valiant effort to rewrite the narrative by soft rebooting the alien invasion established in the first film with different settings — a spaceship and Asia— and a different protagonist. This paid off with mixed reviews from critics and a much improved showing in audience reviews.
Just as Beyond Skyline improves on its predecessor by diversifying its own apocalyptic event, it also improves on the invasion genre as a whole. No alien encounter is a one-city or one-country event. The whole world is affected, and that should be shown in the action. It makes for a risker film, but also a wider scope that’s more than worth the gamble.
Beyond Skyline is more than just an action film; it’s an alien abduction movie, an alien invasion movie, and a movie about what makes people human. There’s a lot going on, but everything’s pulled off like a delicate dance. “It’s kind of the anti-contained movie; the characters almost never stay still, so once they’re moving you’re constantly in perpetual motion throughout the entire movie,” O’Donnell told The Action Elite.
Just like Skyline, Beyond Skyline ends with a cliffhanger, setting up a third part that follows two characters 10 years after the movie’s events. Their story was resolved in Skylines, which improved on the playbook rewritten by Beyond Skyline.
If you’re looking for a movie with that audience appeal X Factor, the action and fight choreography of a Wachowski flick, and the vibes of a Michael Bay explosion-fest, Netflix has a hidden gem for you.
Beyond Skyline is now streaming on Netflix.