ASCENDANT aka RISING WOLF (2021) Reviews of sci-fi thriller

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‘120 floors. 4 walls. 1 secret trapped inside.’
Ascendant is a 2021 Australian science fiction thriller about a young female environmentalist who wakes up trapped and kidnapped. Worse, she’s in the elevator of a super high-rise building and completely at the mercy of her tormentors. Also known as Rising Wolf

Directed by Antaine Furlong [as Anthony Furlong] (short: Emergence) from a screenplay co-written with Kieron Holland, the movie stars Charlotte Best, Jonny Pasvolsky, Andrew Jack and Susan Prior.

Kidnapped and held hostage in a high-speed elevator in a 120-floor building in Shanghai, Aria Wolf has no memory of her past, who her captors are, or what they want from her. Pushed to her limits, she begins to realise she has incredible powers within, kept secret to protect her and her family. Now, unlocking these powers is her only chance to save both herself and her father.

” …Furlong’s debut feature often feels awkward and unsure of itself, unable to pull off the tightrope act it’s trying to perform. Though the claustrophobic setting is ultimately meant to act as a vessel through which we learn the personal intricacies of our protagonist, Best is hardly given much of a character to play at all. She tries her hardest and manages to imbue some physical bravado in a role that doesn’t afford her much past getting thrown around the room and crying…” 1.5 out of 5, The Austin Chronicle

“There’s some genre entertainment value in scenes of Aria getting bruised and battered by the elevator, and while she’s offered no real character to play, Best deserves credit for her physical performance, keeping Aria breathless with fear for most of the run time. As for the grand set-up for “Rising Wolf 2,” Furlong doesn’t create a tempting invitation for a sequel…” 2 out of 5,

“Despite its title it’s not particularly uplifting, and for all the span of its ambition, it doesn’t really go anywhere either. There are some solid performances, it’s well crafted technically. The soundtrack is similarly assembly line, the skirling strings that swell at start and triumphal phone answering feel really generic…” 2.5 out of 5, Eye for Film

“While Rising Wolf introduces a fun potential for an entertaining sci-fi experience, the overall result is a film stuck on rudimentary setup and flashbacks, detaching the audience from the main narrative. It’s almost as if director Furlong forgot that the film needs a concrete message and a memorable ending. Rising Wolf has neither.” 1 out of 4, Film Festival Today

“Furlong and co-writer Kieron Holland have certainly delivered an unconventional story with many unanswered questions, but in a cinematic world that is built on repetition, Ascendant rises above the usual to deliver a film unique, if not a little confusing at times.” Matt’s Movie Reviews

Rising Wolf has a unique genre, premise, story, and setting approach, but the plot is a bit forced and cannot clearly describe the background motive for the story. Yes, we know precisely where the film is going, but it’s all nothing with a plot that doesn’t make sense like this. Without having a fantasy side, though, it is actually enough to make a classy thriller. The filmmaker seemed ambitious but was unable to process the script skillfully.” Montase Film

“Best acquits herself well, doing great work, even when it’s just her, all alone in an elevator, fighting for her life. Furlong and co-writer Kieron Holland keep the thing trundling along at a healthy pace, but it gets sillier with every revelation, its ambition let down by cheap CGI and a convoluted ending.” Starburst

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