In theaters this week from writer/director Christian Cantamessa and Vertical Entertainment along with producer Robert Kirkman comes a look at life without “Air.”
This film tells the story of the future where humanity has destroyed itself and the air needed to breathe. Deep underground are two engineers Bauer (Norman Reedus) and Cartwright (Djimon Hounsou) left with the responsibility of keeping others in suspended animation in cryotubes.
Routinely awaken, they run tests and check equipment as these two men go about their routine. While they are busy with their duties a fire breaks out in one pod leaving only one for both men.
With the clock winding down before their air is depleted, Bauer and Cartwright press each other to the limits of trust as suspicion and fear grow with each move they make.
It is all up in the air!
Reedus as Bauer gives us everything we have come to love about him. He can smile one moment with the devil in his eyes and frown the next bringing a chill down the spine. In “Air” he does both with such ease that it’s actually quite disturbing in a way. Both of these men want to survive but once paranoia strikes, Bauer/Reedus puts his mental foot down and doesn’t take guff of any sort. Yes, a Reedus fan here and I have no shame in that game kids but trust me when I tell you this performance is very cool.
Hounsou as Cartwright is a straight forward man who takes his job seriously and wants to make absolutely sure everything is done correctly. Not only is he good at his job but has a moving motive for every step he takes. His emotions sway from time to time but he pulls it back to dead center because Cartwright’s survival depends on it. Hounsou has such a unique ability for drawing us in. Remember what I just said about Reedus’ smile and eyes? Well, the same is true for Hounsou which means I was keeping my eyes out for both of these characters!
I recently had the fantastic opportunity to speak with Djimon Hounsou about the film “Air”, working with Reedus in close quarters and what he hopes we all take away from the film.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today Djimon.
Hello Jeri, a pleasure to talk to you.
What was your original reaction to the “Air” script when it came to you?
My immediate reaction was that it would be quite an interesting world to explore actually. Right away knowing Norman Reedus with his great presence on his show The Walking Dead, I thought it was going to be quite nice for us to explore and find a way to save humanity. Also, there struggles as well which allowed us to explore these characters that are very creative as well.
What drew you to want to play Cartwright was there something specific? It’s a very complex character.
Yes, he is complex in a way that obviously you come to understand his motive for being there but also a scientist chosen to be there. He has a tremendous desire to be there and it was fun to explore that.
You don’t have one genre that you seem to like to play; you always seem to surprise us.
Yes, that’s true and thank you.
How was it to play just the two of you? In your other films the cast is quite a large ensemble. In “Air” it’s just you and Norman playing off one another.
I thought it was fun; I actually liked that fact that we were so confined and limited to interacting with each other. In filming you have actors and so much that goes on behind the camera. It is sort of like a very orchestrated play within chaos. It was great to work with Norman like this, being on the set every day of the film where you have only thirty days to shoot and not a lot of time to get acquainted with one another. You eventually get acquainted as we both evolved together in the story telling process of the film.
Usually you get to play off your surroundings; “Air” is very limited in surroundings.
Was that a new challenge for you as well?
Actually that was helpful. If you have too big of a house you can’t use all of them, you don’t know your house because you don’t use all if the rooms. If you have a smaller house you use everything in it, you actually get to enjoy it – having a smaller set is just like that.
Was there a scene between you and Norman that you feel you learned something about yourself personally?
Sometimes the understanding comes much later. We learn things that we don’t really comprehend it while it’s happening. It comes clearer later.
You and Norman play these intense characters at times, did you feel that deeper than was put on the page?
I want to say yes because I did not anticipate when I signed up to make this film that the environment would be so creative. It was a chance to dig deep into these characters and I hadn’t anticipated that.
You are never quite sure about either of these characters and that keeps the viewer drawn into the story. When audiences have a chance to see the film what do you want them to take away?
<there was a long pause and then a deep sigh from Djimon to which I immediately apologized>
Oh Jeri, that’s right, you should be so sorry – that is a huge question <laughing>. I’m kidding. What did I learn from this films story? Actually we learn from history. We learn from our past mistakes. For example, look what took place with Katrina in the US, people acted poorly in that city after the disaster and there are people who acted with great humanity. Some people showed a great amount of courage as well. There are ‘what if’ moments so in this film there is that big question – ‘what if?’
‘What if?’ is a big question here. What I took from it is that sometimes our fear over rides our humanity.
True. I think ultimately if we look at life from the basis of mankind then look at it as having the human experience here on earth. Once you define that for yourself I think you will have an answer if something like this ever happened how you should conduct yourself. Once you comprehend that you have it all. It’s very heavy, I can’t say more than that.
No one has experienced anything like “Air” before. Your kind of giving us an original experience in this film.
It never happened before but we have had little pieces of situations of things like that in our world. Our integrity has been questioned and it’s up to us to show courage when the situation presents itself.
Well said sir! Thank you so much Djimon for speaking with us and congratulations on “Air”, so well done.
Thank you Jeri for your support. I hope I can talk to you again when KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE and TARZAN comes to theatres!
I look forward to that Djimon!
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Air” four tubs of popcorn out of five. It has to be said that these two actors took this script to another level. There is suspense, fear, suspicion and the question ‘what will you do to survive?’ The limited setting just gave me a tad bit of claustrophobia because there truly is no way out. Watching these two characters problem solve just got heavier and heavier until the final showdown between them.
Hounsou is such an amazing actor and continues to surprise me with the roles he takes. In “Air” it is this actor’s ability to hide his emotions that give him the edge with the character of Cartwright. Male model to actor he has graced us with outstanding performances in such films as AMISTAD, BLOOD DIAMOND and more recently GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.
Reedus continues to take on challenges besides his Daryl Dixon AMC’s The Walking Dead persona. Fans now have the opportunity to look back into his acting career and discover seeing his films either for the first time or not realizing they had seen him so many times before (BOONDOCK SAINTS is my favsies).
The film is produced by Robert Kirkman (yes, THAT Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead fame) and David Alpert. This is a 95 minute thriller to be sure. Is there more to this story? Absolutely. Am I going to tell you? Nope. Let “Air” speak for itself in theatres this weekend. Prepare for a good ole fashion futuristic thriller!
In the end — two men with one task to save humanity!