Noel Clarke's sci-fi puzzler squanders an interesting premise with repetitive action and a tacked-on love story
You have to give Noel Clarke credit. Not only for his role as Mikey in Doctor Who or as an actor in Centurion, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Star Trek: Into Darkness and many others but he’s also written, directed and produced a series low budget Brit flick, jumping genres with dramas (Kidulthood/Adulthood), crime thrillers (18.104.22.168) and now back for more sci-fi in The Anomaly.
London, the near future, Ryan (Clarke) wakes in the back of a truck with a young boy chained to the wall. They make a break for freedom but before he can get his bearings everything goes black. He wakes up several days later equally confused, suffering severe memory loss he starts trying to piece together what’s going on before each subsequent blackout. He only has a maximum of 9 minutes 47 seconds where he can once again take control of his brain and body. Less than ten minutes to solve the mystery and save the boy.
It’s an interesting premise and structure, each chunk of time where Ryan is conscious being told in real time. The revelations are nicely paced as the audience learns the truth at the same speed as the lead character. The plotting regularly peppered with punch ups and the odd shoot out.
Ian Somerhalder (Lost/The Vampire Diaries) plays the villain of the piece adding some ice cold menace to proceedings, while Brian Cox’s presence is little more than a cameo (with about five minutes of screen time). For every great idea (bio-terrorism, mind control) there is a gaping plot hole that obliterates any good work. The over reliance on slo-mo also makes every action sequence repetitive, even with some semi-decent fight choreography on display. The tacked-on love story is so shallow and perfunctory it's almost laughable. Despite Clarke’s spirited performance everything about The Anomaly just feels incredibly pedestrian.
Screening at Cineworld, Edinburgh, Thu 19 & Fri 20 Jun, as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. General release from Fri 4 Jul.