Immortality is the impossible dream humanity has been chasing since the beginning of time. It’s a theme at the forefront of Eddie Alcazar’s Divinity, a concept fit for a somewhat black-and-white retro but still forward-thinking science fiction film such as this one. The many themes within this film seem like they were created in tandem with its presentation. Time is fluid, and the graininess on the screen might clash with the futuristic probabilities living forever might present. But all of it speaks to the classic ailments time brings to the body and how to utilize science against it. At least, it starts to come together towards the end.
Part of the film is shown through the transmissions of scientist Sterling Pierce (Scott Bakula) on the precipice of creating a substance that would allow humans to escape the jaws of death and live forever. There’s a sense of urgency because Sterling is ill, and the formula is imperfect. In comparison, the body would improve, but the mind still ages at a standard rate. Nothing like a brilliant mind losing the fight to the crisis he’s crying to cure.
His son, Jaxxon Pierce (Stephen Dorff), takes up the mantle with a different vision. It doesn’t embody the altruistic viewpoint of his father. The first time we see Jaxxon, he’s in salesman mode, dawning blonde hair, a wicked grin, and selling the mass populous on the wonder drug Divinity. Everything almost feels too good to be true, given the clear, crystal bottles this substance is provided in. Alcazar’s world feels like it’s devoid of consequences. The agelessness is a breeding ground for eroticism, vanity, and addictive veracity of appearance. Even breakfast cereal commercials are stepped in sexual provocativeness.
Jaxxon’s brother, Rip (Michael O’Hearn), is the byproduct of what Divinity promises—a towering bodybuilder who is more Greek statue than the ordinary person. They both live in a perpetual state of luxury and excess, with sprawling homes depicted as secluded somewhere in the desert. Of course, forever has some drawbacks. If everybody is living forever, then the natural order of life stands interrupted. Alcazar’s world has little to no natural births occurring, and being fertile is shown to be divine-like. Ziva (Bella Thorne), a woman dressed in a white clock and often basked in bright, white lights, is one of the ways Divinity pushes back on what has happened in society.
It’s not explicitly spelled out as what Ziva is, but she intends to unite women who can still produce children in a quiet rebellion. Brothers Moises and Jason (Moises Arias and Jason Genao) serve as electing from a more direct approach in stopping Jaxxon’s creation from continuing to “pollute the world.” The indication is that they are not from the planet Divinity is taking place within, and they see the supplement as a scourge on society. With that conclusion, that means something has to be done about Jaxxon himself – leading to his kidnapping and resulting in him being on the receiving end of a heavy dose of the compound himself.
Once everything is set up, much on Alcazar’s mind is presented, coming at you from all corners. Much of the style and how cinematographer Danny Hiele presents much of the shadowy atmosphere somewhat obstruct any straightforwardness to the film’s overall arc. Another is meant to jar you out of comfort for every blissful scene. For example, the film’s footnote is a stop-motion fight akin to a fighting video game. DJ Muggs and Dean Hurley's musical composition, made up most of keyboards and droning, invokes a sense of a moral bottomless pit. In most ways, that’s how Alcazar wants things to be. He lays out the ingredients, and you compose the meal as you would like. Does Divinity promote conceitedness or perhaps only highlight the battles warring inside of you? The film doesn’t quite say, but it provides two different viewpoints.
Jaxxon becomes a hulking, disfigured mass as Divinity enters more of his bloodstream – which is interesting in itself because of the secret ingredient of the drug. It is lightly touched upon that this may have been the result of some child abandonment trauma Jaxxon has with his father, Sterling. Given why he made the compound to begin with, it’s hard to reason why he would even feel that way. Nevertheless, Dorff’s performance is locked in as a peddler turned monster.
Within this land of beautiful parties and people, the concept of love looks to be in scant supply. A sex worker named Nikita (Karrueche Tran) visits the house of the two brothers and, in turn, falls for one of them. It never feels substantial other than the adage of relationships being the saving grace in a place you don’t recognize. Within sci-fi films, they have a be-careful-what-you-wish-for fable to them. Divinity provides an abstract examination of what playing god and altering promising endeavors can bring. There’s a more thematic richness to this world that is too shielded to bring everything into fuller form.