Written and directed by the prodigious Tom Paton (who’s served in those roles on four features in as many years), Stairs is, has some rather heady perplexities it takes on that elevate it beyond its budgetary limitations. What is the real cost of war? Of sacrifice? For soldiers in combat, is the battle ever really over?
The Ascent is not entirely up to the challenge to answer such matters and is sometimes hindered by the concept-to-cost ratio. While bathing many scenes in striking solid colors of blue, red, and green, there are some scenes that linger a tad too long after lines are delivered that could have been trimmed to cut its runtime. And considering the amount of gunplay, the muzzle flashes are jarringly inauthentic. The final act staged on the opening battlefield, also wears out its welcome before heading to its conclusion.
“…some striking shots and a uniformly solid cast…”
Still, there are some striking shots and a uniformly solid cast, which includes Game of Thrones’s Toby Osmond as the occasional comic relief and Bentley Kalu (who also had a bit role in Edge of Tomorrow) as the brawn. And it is hard to fault a low-budget film for being too ambitious in all aspects of its production.
Whatever moniker you find The Ascent/ Black Ops/ Stairs under, it’s worth viewing to witness Paton’s audacious vision in hopes that he will one day receive a budget that will allow him to fully realize his storytelling acumen.
"…some rather heady perplexities it takes on that elevate it..."