In the future, weather modification technology sends the world into a permanent deep freeze. People struggle to get by in underground colonies, living in whatever underground bunker they can find. In Colony 7, Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) encourages order with a system of rules, the most important of which cover disease. For reasons that are not entirely explained, colds are deadly in the future. The slightest sniffle sends a person to quarantine, and if they don't improve, they're given a choice to walk off into the icy outdoors or take a bullet. Briggs' second-in-command, Mason (Bill Paxton) is losing patience, believing the choice is a weakness that will bring the colony down. He's already taken one man's options away when the colony receives a distress call, which Briggs and the film's young, anonymous protagonist Sam (Kevin Zegers) go to investigate.
The Colony is a tiring movie for the worst reason: it's not really because it's overly dumb or poorly made, but because everything on screen has been done before, and director / co-writer Jeff Renfroe makes no obvious effort to shake them up. I'm sure anyone can easily guess the basics of what the rescue party finds when they investigate the distress call, or whether or not Mason relents. Worse, there are a couple of elements here that briefly sound like they might lead somewhere more interesting, but the film ends up veering away from them, back toward the beaten path. At worst, the film is frustrating, and at best, it's an incredibly boring slog.
The first point of interest is Briggs and Mason, who served together on a medivac copter when society first began crumbling. In one of the film's better scenes, Briggs explains that he and Mason saw the same mental breakdown in people who lost any sense of structure in their lives, and that Colony 7 was meant to prevent that from happening. The 180-degree change in Mason's could make him more than The Obnoxious Naysayer, but the reasons for Mason's change are never explored. The second point of interest -- minor spoilers ahead -- is the revelation that the other colony has been overrun by cannibals, the very kind of mentally destroyed people that Briggs and Mason are both afraid of. Again, instead of shading in their insanity with any sort of nuance or interest, Renfroe makes them into little more than fast zombies, a monster that allows Fishburne to do a couple of ice-pick fight scenes (admittedly a little fun).
The rest of the film is simply lazy. Although the filmmakers give Sam a backstory, they don't bother to give him any real motivation, other than opposing Mason's militant attitude. Despite a complete lack of identifiable hopes, dreams, skills, or thoughts, Sam is actually the film's protagonist. He's got an equally bland girlfriend, Kai (Charlotte Sullivan), who seems to exist solely so Sam can have conversations with her about his backstory, and so he can rescue her at one point. The film also frequently falls back on convenience (gigantic, human-sized air ducts), and ignores blatant plot holes. In one scene, Sam and Briggs are followed after an overnight stay thanks to their footprints in the snow, despite the fact that it is always snowing when the characters are outdoors. It's too bad: taken as a whole, The Colony is another example of genre entertainment that lives right into the viewer's lowest expectations.
The Video and Audio
Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is much more pleasing, if only decent overall. Mostly, the track is about environment ambience: dank underground caverns, an abandoned helicopter as protection from the wind and snow outside, large caverns, etc. As the movie progresses, there are also some thunderous explosions, crowd scenes, and a siege on the colony that really perks up the ears with directional creaking and banging inside air vents. Dialogue is clear and music is nicely rendered, even bringing a little bass to the mix. English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing and Spanish subtitles are also included.
Trailers for The Numbers Station, Evidence, and Blood play before the main menu.