Review: Third Installment of Skylines Gets Throwback Alien Action Just Right

The intriguing plot of 2010’s Skyline involved the citizens of Los Angeles being gulped up by an alien invasion for unknown purposes. As written by Liam O’Donnell, I think at some point we find out this is happening all over the world, but the scope was kept small and representative rather than big and expensive. It took seven years to get a sequel to a film very few people enjoyed, but something strange happened with Beyond Skyline: it was a whole lot of fun, thanks in large part to O’Donnell taking over as director and the story shifting focus to a detective (Frank Grillo) setting out to find and rescue his son from one of the alien ships. It was just bold and crazy enough to work; it bounced around the world, allowing for a wonderfully diverse group of characters to populate the movie and giving us many options on the types of action sequences the filmmaker could turn to in the battle sequences.

Image courtesy of the film

So it should come as no surprise that O’Donnell and company were compelled to do a third film—Skylines (or Skylin3s)—which brings back the character of Grillo’s part-alien daughter Capt. Rose Corley (the returning Lindsey Morgan) and makes her the lynchpin in a plan to go to the alien homeworld and retrieve the key to curing a virus that threatens to destroy the peace between earthlings and the alien hybrids that live on Earth. Rose is tasked with leading a small military team, including Alexander Siddig, Jonathan Howard, Ieva Andrejevaite, Cha-Lee Yoon, and Rose’s alien-hybrid brother Trent (Jeremy Fitzgerald) into a wormhole to get to the planet and then through a swarm of aliens who want to use their bodies for energy. There’s a silly subplot back on Earth, in which Dr. Mal (Rhona Mitra) and a few other humans must fight off infected hybrid aliens in hopes of protecting a camp of human survivors of the original invasion, thus adding a countdown element to the off-world mission. It’s a very silly secondary story that we almost forget about when it isn’t on screen, and I had no real connection to at any point.

The action sequences are about on par with Beyond Skyline, with a great deal of shooting and martial arts, and the occasional body part being ripped off, usually belonging to an alien. Probably the biggest step down from the previous film is in the characterizations, which basically boil down to military types as tough guys, following orders, who likely can’t be trusted to do the right thing with the cure once the mission is completed. None of them seem particularly complicated or deep, including Rose. I realize in most action movies you aren’t looking for emotional depth or complex thought, but something a little deeper than alpha-male behavior and muscle flexing would have been appreciated.

The movie still has its moments as far as some of the relationships go, but again, Skylines knows what its priorities are—action and gooey alien stuff—and leans into them about as hard as it can. The bottom line is I almost couldn’t help but enjoy most of what’s here, likely because I know the inner-teenager in me would have eaten this up back in the 1980s. And while I don’t consider myself a creature of nostalgia, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good throwback sci-fi adventure movie when I see it.

The film is now playing in select theaters that are open, drive-ins, and on VOD.

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Steve Prokopy
Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.

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