A strong cast can't breathe life into Adam Randall's derivative sci-fi thriller
Why should superheroes be American? Adam Randall's London-set techno-thriller follows a schoolboy who develops super-powers after a freak accident fuses his smartphone to his brain. iBoy has an original-enough concept, taken from a book by Kevin Brooks, but any freshness is muffled by the dated gangster movie clichés peppered throughout the script.
iBoy's strength is in the casting: Bill Milner (Son of Rambow) plays the timid Tom, whose secret crush on Lucy (Maisie Williams) leads him into a turf war on his local estate. After waking up from a coma, Tom discovers he is able to text, go online, and hack into phones and computers using the power of his mind – a form of cyber-telekinesis. Tom quickly puts his powers into practice by taking revenge on those who threaten his relationship with Lucy.
With Rory Kinnear as a crime boss and Miranda Richardson as Tom's mother, there's some high-powered acting talent on show; unfortunately they're in service of some cringe-worthy dialogue. It's over 20 years since Pulp Fiction, so having the villains engage in sub-Tarantino chat about the difference between cottage pie and shepherd's pie is filler at best. But long before the predictable 'empty warehouse' showdown, iBoy struggles to find an appropriate tone, with juvenile jokes about Tom humiliating his rivals at school assembly sitting uncomfortably alongside a rape-revenge storyline more suited to a scuzzy exploitation movie.
Producers Netflix have scored notable successes supplementing their streaming library with original content but this well-made but painfully derivative film suggests that they'll need to cast their minds forwards rather than backwards with future projects. iBoy's title promises a new brand of hero, but Randall delivers a somewhat dog-eared collection of yesterday's clichés.
Available on Netflix from Fri 27 Jan.