In its path to release, Black Ops certainly has gone through a bit of an identity crisis. It started as Stairs, and then for its European and Australian release, it changed to The Ascent. Now that this sci-fi-horror-action hybrid is hitting the shores of North America, its title has switched to Black Ops. All these title changes are reminiscent of another bigger-budgeted film that underwent a high-profile title switch: Edge of Tomorrow. That Doug Liman tentpole started with the working title All You Need is Kill (which is the same as its book inspiration), came to theaters as Edge Of Tomorrow, and was released on video as Live Die Repeat.
Like Edge Of Tomorrow, The Ascent (or whichever title you choose) features a group of soldiers forced to repeat the same events, over and over, altering their actions ever so slightly in hopes of getting out of the perpetual time loop in which they find themselves. Unlike the superlative Tom Cruise blockbuster, the characters in Black Ops do not reboot their lives if they die. Rather, it’s game over for them.
“…a group of soldiers forced to repeat the same events, over and over…”
Hell’s Bastards, a special ops team of mercenaries, are on a mission to infiltrate an enemy camp, seize all relevant intel, and wipe out all the bad guys there. Unfortunately for them, the site holds a civilian hostage (Julia Szamalek) who splits the team. One of the mercs, Clarke (Samantha Schnitzler), is conflicted because team leader Stanton (Shayne Ward) demands they follow orders and execute the prisoner.
At Stanton’s gunpoint, Clarke follows her commanding officer, and the team treks back to headquarters for a debriefing. A faulty elevator forces them to take the stairs in a seemingly endless climb of concrete, leading to a door that exits onto the very same battlefield in which they started. Adding to this hellish hamster wheel is the zombie-like reincarnation of the civilian at the bottom of the stairs that is slowly ascending behind them when they re-enter their climb.
"…some rather heady perplexities it takes on that elevate it..."