Like its predecessor, 2009’s “Star Trek,” director J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the legendary 1960s television series of the same name, starts out strong before losing its head of narrative steam in the second half. This is a small complaint, though. Overall, what you have in “Star Trek: Into Darkness” is a solid, fun, epic science fiction adventure that lacks depth but scores in a number of other ways.
The story opens with James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew on a primitive planet trying to do good but eventually forced to make an impossible choice that involves the Prime Directive. Kirk’s decision ends up costing him the captain’s chair of his beloved Enterprise and causes a rift in his friendship with Spock (Zachary Quinto).
While this meta drama is unfurling at Federation Headquarters in San Francisco, London is hit with terrorist attack by a Starfleet agent named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). The USS Enterprise is charged with the clandestine mission of hunting down Harrison and killing him with prototype photon torpedoes. This dark work, however, only fractures the relationships among the crew even more.
“Into Darkness” delivers a number of superb action sequences, both big and small, and countless references to both the beloved original series and the popular film franchise that followed. At times, though, I did wish things would’ve slowed down. What made “Star Trek” “Star Trek” were the relationships, and Abrams only seems interested in hitting those beats as opposed to taking the time to develop and explore his characters in a way that sticks. This was something the original-cast films did very, very well.
As far as the villain, there is no question that Cumberbatch is an improvement over “Star Trek’s” Eric Bana, but still a far cry from the Borg, Christopher Plummer, or Ricardo Montalban. Passable but not iconic.
Star Trek: Into Darkness is now available for sale on Bluray at Amazon.com.