Off the grid. On the run.
‘Privacy is dead. Get over it.’ If this famous remark by a tech company boss makes you squirm, you will find the dystopian near future imagined by writer-director Andrew Niccol in sci-fi thriller Anon truly nightmarish.
Surveillance is total and privacy really has vanished. Walk down the street and the life records of everyone you encounter is visible on your own retina, Google Glass-style, thanks to a biosynthetic computer implant called The Mind’s Eye and a vast grid known as The Ether.
As you might imagine, this makes solving crime a breeze. Until, that is, Clive Owen’s jaded police detective, Sal Frieland, discovers that someone has worked out how to hack into The Ether and edit the data. He’d like to point the finger at Amanda Seyfried’s enigmatic stranger (referred to in the credits only as The Girl). But she is a ghost in the system, an anonymous cypher who doesn’t turn up on his Mind’s Eye, or anywhere else. And, as if this isn’t bad enough, a string of bodies are turning up in her invisible wake…
Snooping and sharing.
Niccol, creator of 1997’s sci-fi thriller Gattaca and writer of media satire The Truman Show, gives this futuristic film the patina of old-school film noir. Owen’s world-weary detective is certainly a throwback to the classic gumshoes of the past, while Seyfried’s sense of mystery makes her an ideal femme fatale. Not everything works, however. The film’s desaturated look is moody enough, but it makes the drama rather airless. And the surprisingly raunchy sex scenes are rather jarring, as well. Film noir created its erotic frisson by means of suggestion and innuendo alone.
Still, Niccol gets one important thing absolutely right. Just as film noir tapped into the social anxieties of the 1940s and 50s, Anon is spot on when it comes to our growing angst about snooping and sharing.
Certificate 15. Runtime 100 mins. Director Andrew Niccol
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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.