Narcopolis | Film review - Kickstarter-funded British sci-fi thriller is Blade Runner on a budget

Narcopolis Elliot Cowan
Narcopolis stars Elliot Cowan Elodie Yung Jonathan Pryce Robert Bathurst James Callis

Writer-director Justin Trefgarne strives for noir twists in this ambitious low-budget British sci-fi thriller set in a dystopian future Britain where all drugs are legal.

Narcopolis stars Elliot Cowan Elodie Yung Jonathan Pryce Robert Bathurst James Callis

In a nightmarish 2024 London where half the population are off their heads on legalised recreational drugs sold by a nefarious pharmaceutical corporation, a dogged cop (Elliot Cowan) investigates the mystery of an unidentified corpse and uncovers a far-reaching conspiracy in Narcopolis (opens in new tab).

A low-budget Blade Runner, this partly Kickstarter-funded British sci-fi thriller doesn’t entirely work. First-time writer-director Justin Trefgarne has come up with an overly convoluted script and his time-travel twist – flagged in the opening scene - will send most viewers for a loop.

Narcopolis Elodie Yung

Narcopolis stars Elliot Cowan Elodie Yung Jonathan Pryce Robert Bathurst James Callis

He has done an impressive job, all the same, of creating a grimy dystopia on a shoestring. Narcopolis's ambience of seedy dereliction is enough to give anyone post-Brexit shivers. Trefgarne deserves credit, too, for attracting such British acting stalwarts as Jonathan Pryce, Robert Bathurst and Nicky Henson to the project.

The presence of French–Cambodian actress Elodie Yung is another coup. Recently seen as the goddess of love in blockbuster fantasy Gods of Egypt (opens in new tab), she proves suitably intriguing here as a mysterious young woman who dogs the steps of Cowan's battered hero and confounds him at almost every turn.

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Certificate 15. Runtime 92 mins. Director Justin Trefgarne

Narcopolis makes its debut today on Sky Cinema Premiere and is available on Blu-ray & DVD, courtesy of Altitude Film Distribution.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mU33nMkKygA

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.