“Space Sweepers” is what K-Pop looks like in sci-fi movie form.
A not-quite-amusing mashup of “Valerian” and “The Fifth Element,” “Blade Runner” and “Elysium,” it’s the sugariest eye candy Netflix has ever produced.
It’s gorgeous, and if you’re all about immersing yourself in a futuristic, apocalyptic, grimy-lived in world, then sit back and soak in the two hours and seventeen minutes of Korean-made candy corn. Go in expecting something that isn’t empty-headed in ways that make its escapism tedious and you’ll be disappointed.
Set in 2092 in orbit around an arid, orange dust-storm covered Earth post “Blade Runner 2049,” it concerns the halfway harrowing misadventures of a crew of space junk collectors, slowly going bankrupt in the “sweeper” eat sweeper world of selling abandoned, floating hardware for its precious metal content.
Song Joong-Ki is Tae-Ho, a junk collector obsessed with finding his long-missing daughter. Kim Tae-ri is the too cool for Space School Captain Jang, who wears her Raybans in low Earth orbit. And “Tiger” Park (Seon-kyu Jin) is the grimy, mohawked tattooed engineer who keeps their souped-up space scow, the Victory, flying.
A “droid” weapon that looks like a seven year old girl has escaped. “Dorothy” (Ye-Rin Park) may look like cuteness incarnate — “bowl cut” or not. She’s really a bomb, seized by the radical Black Fox group, coveted by the 152 year old megamogul Sullivan (Richard Armitage), who doesn’t look a day over 44.
Unless, of course, the Elon-level genius and polymath gets angry. Sullivan runs UTS, which owns most everything in space, including the space elevators that get people there. He hates what humanity has done to Earth and makes no bones about ruthlessly deciding who gets to escape it.
Sullivan is about to colonize Mars, has this miracle “Tree of Life” plant that will help with the terraforming and is missing this Dorothy that may not be exactly what the story fed to the media says.
Naturally, the Victory is where Dorothy ends up. It takes even the robot in the crew, Bubs, a few minutes to figure out who this stowaway is, even though her face and “bowl cut” have been plastered everywhere. But once they make the connection, these “starving” junkers angle for a way to make her pay off for them.
Cute or not, cash is cash. Who will pay the most?
“Cute” is the primary aim here, thus the K-Pop analogy. We’re treated to bantering bickering via radio or orbital poker games (in Korean, Danish, Danish, Russian, German, Chinese and English, with English subtitles unless you watch it dubbed), an annoying, wise-cracking and humming robot, mob meet-ups in orbital discos, low Earth orbit ballets of spaceships chasing junk in between space stations, one of which is a dead ringer for Jodie Foster’s stomping grounds, Elysium.
Shoot outs, wisecracks, narrow escapes and brutal, bloodied captures, a big BOOM that might be coming and Raybans that might never come off.
It’s oh-so-pretty to look at. But talk about empty calories.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, some violence, drinking, lots of profanity
Cast: Song Joong-Ki, Kim Tae-ri, Seon-kyu Jin, Richard Armitage
Credits: Directed by Sung-hee Jo, script by ; Sung-hee Jo, Seung-min Yoon, Seo-ae Yoo-kang. A Netflix release.
Running time: 2:17