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:: Cypher

Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Northam) lives an ordered, boring, suburban life sometime in the future. But everything changes when he gets a job at a mega corporation, Digicorp, as a spy, infiltrating their rival mega corporation Sunways. What follows is a pastiche of science fiction films, paying homage to everything from A Clockwork Orange to Brazil (one of the characters is named Tuttle), and a plethora of double crosses and double-double crosses.

Lucy Liu plays Rita, a mysterious femme fatale who offers Morgan salvation, or destruction, depending on which way the plot has twisted. She gets a funky wig and skintight outfits, almost as though she is playing one of her Charlie’s Angels personas. Needless to say, there is not much in the way of character development.

This is a disappointing follow up for director Vincenzo Natali who made his debut with the original and spooky Cube. This story, by first time screenwriter Brian King, is like an episode of Alias on a bad day. The final plot twist, in a post Usual Suspects world, is glaringly obvious, and it adds little to the genre of paranoid science fiction.

The purpose of the corporations is kept entirely vague, as is the time that this story is meant to be taking place. Nothing is anchored in any believable reality and so the story and the characters suffer the consequences. It needed specifics for an audience to really care. It almost felt like the outline of a plot where the details are still to be filled in rather than a completed story.

Jeremy Northam’s performance is a little too mannered though his transformation by the end does him credit. He doesn’t feel, however, like an actor capable of carrying an entire film and as he is in every scene, much depends on his charisma.

Sci fi buffs will be disappointed with a film that offers even fewer challenges than The Matrix Reloaded.