Compassion and survival are made to duel once more in the unambitious sci-fi thriller "The Colony." In a post-apocalyptic future, Everyman Sam (Kevin Zegers) stands by while Mason (Bill Paxton), the ruthlessly practical leader of their Arctic settlement, executes anyone with a cough or a sniffle. "Nothing personal," shrugs Mason, looking about as remorseful for the corpse at his feet as he would for the bacteria he killed while washing his hands.
When a distress signal comes in from a nearby settlement, Sam and two fellow idealists (Laurence Fishburne and Atticus Dean Mitchell) brave the tundra-like outdoors to investigate the cause and rescue survivors. The first act adequately builds to the mystery behind the mayhem at Colony 5. Yet the big reveal is not only deflatingly routine, but also flattens the running debate between kindness and self-preservation to cardboard concepts.
Directed by Jeff Renfroe, "The Colony" was largely shot at a decommissioned NORAD base in Ontario. The building's long, eerie corridors and steel beams lend the picture architectural interest, but can't make up for the script's negligent world-building.
Ultimately, the film strands its archetypal characters in a featureless danger zone and gives them overly familiar dialogue borrowed from a dozen other B-movies. It might be a great starting point for a future Sims game, but is too lacking in specificity to exist on this Earth.
"The Colony." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. At AMC Rolling Hills 20, Torrance.