June 2, 2012

Cypher (2002)

"An unsuspecting, disenchanted man finds himself working as a spy in the dangerous, high-stakes world of corporate espionage. Quickly getting way over-his-head, he teams up with a mysterious femme fatale."

As you can tell from the synopsis, this isn't a horror movie. It's not often that I watch a straight sci-fi movie but everybody said that this was a good one so I gave it a try.

Directed by Vincenzo Natali, who was also responsible for the much more horrific "Cube" (1997), "Cypher" was one of those twisty-turny thrillers which you either love or hate.

Although very similar in places to "The Thirteenth Floor" (1999) and, bizarrely, even the much more recent "The Joneses" (2009), I really got into it although I'd guessed the ending quite early on.

To cut a long story short, this was a Jeremy Northam vehicle with a few important appearances by Lucy Liu. I don't really know much about Jeremy Northam as an actor since he doesn't crop up that often in the genre which I prefer. I've seen him before in "Mimic" (1997) and "The Invasion" (2007) but never really paid him any attention. He was absolutely phenomenal in this however.

I'm not a big fan of Lucy Liu. It's not that there's anything wrong with her but I saw too much of her in "Ally McBeal" (and a lot of other TV shows) and I still class her as a TV actress. She was alright in this though and I actually liked her character.

I also liked all the mechanical (and typically sci-fi) effects in "Cypher". They reminded me of many of the bigger sci-fi genre movies (such as "Gattaca", "The Matrix", "Minority Report", "Total Recall" and "Johnny Mnemonic") but, of course, had a far smaller budget behind them. There weren't a lot of action scenes, but when they happened, they were was nicely done too.

I couldn't really find any major faults with "Cypher" except that the ending (which revealed the motivation behind everything) was a little bit stupid in a way that only something as dreadful as "Kill Bill" (also starring Lucy Liu of course) could stoop to.

For what it was, with all its neo-noir atmosphere and, obviously, unoriginal "dystopian future" setting, it was pretty good and I'm very surprised that I'd never heard of this movie before.

Since "Cypher" is all over the place on YouTube, you can watch it online. I'm not sure if I would go as far as recommending this as a purchase due to it not being something you'd watch more than once, but it's definitely something worth adding to your rental queue if you want to watch it on your big TV screen.

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