Dir: Vincenzo Natali
Star: Jeremy Northam, Lucy Liu, Nigel Bennett, Timothy Webber
Cert / Year: 15 / 2002
Format: DVD R2

Morgan Sullivan is a bored businessman who is tired of his humdrum life and over bearing wife, so he decides to become a corporate spy for Digicorp. Equipped with a false identity he is sent to a series of conventions to record the lectures. There he meets an enigmatic woman who informs him that he is in danger and that Digicorp are secretly using him. Must he now double cross Digicorp and are the opposition any more of an option? He is well out of his depth, as he has becomes a pawn in a deadly game of industrial espionage.

The cyber thriller has had a rocky history. The Lawnmower Man was an inexplicable success but nearly all those that followed failed badly. Of those failures was a couple of William Gibson’s stories Johnny Mnemonic and New Rose Hotel these high tech corporate espionages thriller were either to high concept, too silly, or too boring. In fact it wasn't until the slick pseudo comic styling of the original The Matrix did the genre get a shot in the arm. Now Cypher has weighed into this very hit and miss type of film with what can only be described as limited success.

The story and script are very intelligent. There are double crosses left right and center, and you can't help to feel for the poor central character caught in the center of this near future war of corporate greed. It is of real credit that director Vincenzo Natali (the guy who bought you the excellent Cube) manages to keep his eye on the ball and ensure the audience doesn't get lost. The many and often unexpected plot twists ensure that there is something to keep you interested until near the end when unfortunately the final twist is a bit of a let down.

The trouble is you will really need to be kept interested by the story, as the pace of the movie is so interminably slow. Forget the speed of Minority Report or The Matrix we are talking Gattaca slow here. While is may be great to develop the characters it means that a sense of tension or danger is rarely conveyed, and the whole thing runs the dire risk of becoming boring. This is fine for a character piece like Gattaca but in an espionage cyber thriller it is a bit of a problem.

The washed out palette that has been used does not help to alleviate the whole sense of boredom. This over used trick has been seen so many times recently that it has become a cliché that in the future there appears to be no primary colors. It is a shame that director chose to use drab-o-vision, as apart from this there are some nice visual flourishes used (like the map displaying the travel) and some really accomplished camera work.

The unassuming Jeremy Northam takes the central role, and he is great as Morgan Sullivan. The problem comes when he is asked to play the other characters the role requires. He just doesn't seem to have the needed range. For the most part this isn't a problem, but it becomes really noticeable at the end of the film. Apart from him the only other notable character is that of Rita played by Lucy Liu (who is on penance from Ballistic Eccs Vs Sever in my book). Ok so it's not the best developed character in the world but as is common of her recent roles she doesn't appear to be pushing out the boat and delivers a very flat performance.

Cypher is an accomplished cyber thriller. It has a convoluted script packed with twists and turns. The only thing it doesn't have is much in the way of action. I'm not asking for massive explosions or hoards of killer robots, but it would be nice if something interesting happened every now and again. For me this whole thing is just too darn slow. The direction is slick and accomplished, however the boring palette just adds to the lack of excitement. For those who like their thrillers intellectual with emphasis on characters and plot then this is the film for you, those who crave thrills and action should look elsewhere.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic Picture is very good
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Good but this is not the movie for sound effects.
Features Main Feature
Commentary track
Features Deleted scenes
Making of featurette
Behind the scenes footage
Verdict I can't really see the need for two discs, as all of this could have fitted on the one. But you do get a nice shiney box.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home