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Outland

Year: 1981
Studio: The Ladd Company
Director: Peter Hyams
Writer: Peter Hyams
Cast: Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, James B Sikking, Steven Berkoff

At some point in his career, I've heard that Sean Connery really wanted to get away from James Bond. He started with John Boorman's headf#@k Zardoz, then followed up not too long after with this far more accessible effort.

Like a host of copycats would later, it cleaved to the then-freshly minted Star Wars mood but retained a very strong authenticity, as if real people from Earth who we'd one day know, love and be traveled the solar system to work as miners, engineers and security guards.

Incoming police chief O'Neill (Connery) soon smells a rat amid the goings on at the Io-based mining colony. After a few miners have gone off the deep end and committed calm but terrible acts of suicide, he discovers the company (which provides everything from lodgings to brothels for the workers' comfort and amusement) is also doping them to get productivity gains.

When he confronts the administrator (a very young-looking Boyle) about it, he's told it's quite commonplace and accepted, and that he will look the other way or pay the consequences. The plot is fairly simple as O'Neill refuses to kowtow to the nasty company man and learns that hitmen are being sent on the next shuttle to deal with him accordingly.

None of the action is over the top or epic in scope but the real success in the film is in Hyams' vision of the time and place. Of course by then the notion of truck drivers in space (with all the attendant grease, dirty and cramped living and language that would make George Lucas' toes curl) had been done in Alien, but Hyams rendered another thrilling and realistic depiction of it.

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