Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None listed as present
SCIENCE fiction as a means of making you think seems to be making
a comeback of late, no doubt buoyed by the Box Office under-performance
of some of the more effects-heavy no-brainers.
Movies such as The Matrix,
Solaris and, to a lesser extent,
Minority Report, have
provided plenty for the brain, as well as the eye, to take in,
while also tipping their hat to the likes of Kubrick and Scott
in their heyday. All of which brings us neatly to Cypher.
A complex little tale of industrial espionage and lost identity
set in the future, Cypher is the latest film from Cube director,
Vincenzo Natali, and a neatly claustrophobic thriller to boot.
Jeremy Northam stars as out-of-work accountant, Morgan Sullivan,
who seeks an escape from his lacklustre existence by joining the
multi-national computer corporation, Digicorp, to become a commanding
Adopting a new identity, he is sent to spy on various trade conventions,
but falls under the spell of Lucy Lius elusive, but beautiful
Rita, who reveals that Digicorps activities are merely designed
as a ruse to brainwash him and others like him.
Yet by accepting her offer of assistance, he is ultimately forced
to work for a rival organisation as a double agent, and finds
his only means of escape lies in uncovering the identity of a
deep cover operative, known as Sebastian Rooks, who seems to have
made a living out of playing one side off against the other.
It is only when he steals vital data from a secured network belonging
to the biggest of the two companies that he discovers the real
truth behind his mission.
Fans of movies such as The Matrix will be more than familiar
with the computer-based society created in Cypher, particularly
given its brainwash scenario, but Natali pulls a neat trick by
continually playing things close to his chest.
Hence, his film operates far more on a psychological level, building
well on the same sort of claustrophobic paranoia that was evident
in Cube, and forcing viewers to pay attention throughout.
The world he creates is suitably nightmarish as well, a sort
of future America, in which every city looks the same, and colour
is virtually bleached out, with everyone conforming to some sort
of hum-drum existence. It helps to lend the film its own identity,
particularly during the latter stages.
The cast, too, is uniformly excellent, with Northam - who appears
in practically every scene - providing an engaging and believable
hero, who taps well into the increasing hopelessness of his predicament.
Liu, too, walks that fine line between the alluring and intimidating
that has become something of a trademark, providing some great
chemistry with Northam in their scenes together.
Natali may, ultimately, give in to the urge to deliver an action-packed,
race-against-time finale, but even this is competently handled,
while the final few twists are never compromised and are likely
to have you piecing things together for some time afterwards.
And while mainstream audiences may find the lack of a genuine
A-list presence, or a mega-effects budget, off-putting, those
who are willing to give it a shot should find Cypher a surprising,
and rewarding, experience.
It bears all the hallmarks of becoming a cult classic and demands
at least two viewings.