Someone should make a film that takes place inside the pleasure center of a teenage boy’s brain. Maybe then someone can explain why they respond to junk like Kurt Wimmer’s 1984-lite Equilibrium and Vincenzo Natali’s Cypher and why they confuse their “cool” imagery and narrative scams for anything remotely resembling a complex exchange of ideas. This witless sci-fi/noir hybrid looks like a glossy infomercial and moves like a noisy PowerPoint presentation, with white-collar dope Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Northam channeling the voice of the Moviefone operator) involved in demonlover-style corporate shenanigans. When Digicorp expunges Morgan’s identity and forces him to whoosh around the country in order to infiltrate high-stakes business seminars, a kind of cock-of-the-walk elitism sets in: He trades in his ginger ale for Scotch single malt on the rocks and his cloying Caucasian wife for sexy Lucy Liu, whose character believes in “no commitments, no bullshit and no rings” (ain’t he lucky?) and gets her drugs from the same supplier as Morpheus from The Matrix. Morgan gets in too deep and finds that he’s now working as a double agent for a guerilla organization out to destroy Digicorp. One ludicrous, insignificant plot turn gives way to another before the film culminates with a punchline that’s both predictable and howlingly meaningless. It’s not so much that Cypher doesn’t make any sense (most of the time it doesn’t), it’s just that its images mean nothing. Natali can’t be bothered to fashion an actual human story around the perpetually buzzing toys and non-stop backstabbing and double-crossing. Northam’s character may be lucky enough to find himself, but Cypher itself never finds its soul.
- Miramax Films
- 95 min
- Vincenzo Natali
- Brian King
- Jeremy Northam, Lucy Liu, Nigel Bennett, Timothy Webber, David Hewlitt, Kari Matchett, Kristina Nicoll
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