Anon (3 stars)

Anon

Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried head up this well-intentioned and timely sci-fi thriller that ultimately frustrates

In the not-too-distant future police detective Sal Frieland (Clive Owen) isn't terribly stretched to solve the few crimes that take place in his generic metropolis. There is no privacy or anonymity in a society in which every move is recorded through eye implants and permanently stored in the Ether. Where were you at 10am last Thursday? Never mind answering, your Mind's Eye file can be accessed in an instant, showing exactly where you were and what you were doing.

This seems to be the logical progression of social media. People who think the world is waiting for Instagram documentation of their lunch may welcome every second of their lives being so readily available. But a shocking string of murders challenge the surveillance system. The killer is somehow able to hack into human beings and block the victims' points-of-view. Investigation leads Sal to a mysterious woman – irritatingly known only as 'The Girl' (Amanda Seyfried) – who has somehow erased herself from all public record and thus looks good for the killings.

You might think Sal would act a bit more enthusiastic about finally having a proper whodunnit to sleuth, but he is the archetypal burned-out gumshoe with a tragic past, a broken marriage and an aversion to relationships that is pronounced even in an artificial reality in which technology trumps humanity. The Girl is even more of a cypher, since nothing resembling a personality emerges. And, disappointingly, the solution to the mystery is so sudden and hurried it feels hastily tacked on, leaving much unexplained and nothing changed.

New Zealand-born writer-director Andrew Niccol's films have been hit and miss since his memorable script for The Truman Show and his arresting directorial debut Gattaca. The noir-infused sci-fi thriller is his default genre and this is weighted with deep, dark misgivings on timely issues, such as security versus privacy. It's hard not to respect the intent but its preoccupation with VR and the well-done digital dressing spares little room for social or political context, nor for character development. It is cold, detached and one note – a note so subdued it becomes soporific.

General release and on Sky Cinema from Fri 11 May.

Anon

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • 1h 40min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Andrew Niccol
  • Cast: Clive Owen, Amanda Seyfried, Colm Feore

Detective Sal (Owen) lives in a society where everyone’s moves can be traced in an instant, but then a string of murders points to a mysterious woman (Seyfried). Another chilly noir-infused sci-fi thriller from Niccol, whose preoccupation with his usual themes of privacy leaves little room for character development.

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