Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cypher (2002)

Thrilling, terse cyber-thriller about a man who trains to be a corporate spy, but, in the process, begins losing his identity and sense of reality. Vincenzo Natali, the wonderful filmmaker behind Cube, Nothing, and, most recently, Splice, directs, but doesn't write, this thriller that creates great tension out of the idea of two tech conglomerates using their massive means to spy on each other, by any means necessary; one thinks it is not unrealistic to think that Microsoft and Mac relations operate at least somewhat like Digicorp and Sunways, the two corporations at odds here. Jeremy Northam is the lead, a mild-mannered man named Morgan Sullivan who is convinced by Digicorp to act as a spy for them at Sunways keynotes and conventions, under an alias with specific character traits. Immediately, Northam begins having headaches and memory lapses, and begins to become far more like his alias than his normal self, and begins to lose focus over who his employers are, what their agenda is, and who HE is. Lucy Liu enters into the equation as a woman who meets Sullivan in a bar, and seems to lead a parallel life to his. Both leads' performances are impeccable; Liu is wonderfully mysterious and sexy, while Northam succeeds in the more challenging task of being a protaganist that's an enigma to both the audience and the other characters. The production (I'm guessing Canadian like Natali's other projects) has Natali's highest production values (other than Splice), and portrays its lofty sci-fi concepts in full fidelity. But for all the sci-fi techno-babble, the emotion and humanity in this movie is quite strong; we accept the fantastical things Sullivan encounters as real because he seems to be just as perplexed by them as we are. Even though Natali didn't script this one, the script contains his trademark lofty ideas, and he executes them just as proficiently as if he had written it himself.

Highly recommended for sci-fi nerds and appreciators of the phenomenal work of Vincenzo Natali. In an age of regurgitation and repackaging, Natali has made four movies (Cube, Nothing, this, and Splice) that not only completely defy conventions, but contain enough originality to seem ignorant and FREE of them. He has my undying attention.

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