Cypher (2002)

cypher“Cypher” has an excellent concept presented to the audience on-screen, and that’s what’s disappointing. The film is a socially relevant observation of two (what I can assume are) humongous corporations fighting for dominance in a futuristic world of greed and deception, these two humongous companies are shifty and cold and use their employees to  represent them in apparently mundane meetings about stock and products. This is an excellent topic and brilliant concept that could have made for one of the most thought provoking gems that went undiscovered. When the film ended (I was so happy when it did) I was left boggling my brain wondering how good this film could have been.

Unfortunately, all we were given was this rashly ill-conceived utterly atrocious piece of garbage that wasted every possible chance for commentary on its concept. It’s a film that possibly looked great on the printed page but just did not, or could not translate on to the screen, this is a film that in the right hands could have ended up becoming excellent, but it looks as if from beginning to end, the writers and director had no idea how to go about this, so instead of getting the attention it would have, only ends up premiering on premium cable to me. As always, ten minutes in to the film, my internal sirens were going off and I knew I was in for the longest movie of my life, which only was about ninety minutes in the end. The film evolves oh so further to superiority it can never reach.

In the end we discover it’s a film about greed and money hungry corporations who could possibly have the key to world domination and use their employees as pod people to carry their agendas back and forth and supply them with artificial lives just to keep them in ignorance and keep them doing their work. It’s such a great concept that I was beaming with what could have been, what would have been, but what ultimately isn’t. What emerges is an incredibly lifeless, stale, cold, and droning exercise in mediocrity followed by derivative concepts rehashed in to the seams of the plot. This film possibly went from an original concept to a mixture of plot elements I’ve seen a thousand times. It is such a derivative messy mesh (say that five times fast) of Phillip K. Dick, and Cronenberg while taking so much elements of “The Matrix” turning it into an inevitable rip-off, and an embarrassing rip-off.

Jeremy Northan plays Jack Thursby, a man in a horrible life, a horrible marriage who is sent out to meetings by his company but is being plagued by nightmares, but when he meets a beautiful woman in a bar (Lucy Liu) she exposes him to his real life. Liu is as wooden as Pinocchio here as a woman who shows Northam’s character the truth about his ho-hum life and is such a rip off of Laurence Fishburne’s character from the film that she could pass as his sister. She spouts lines like “I will show you the truth”, has a colorful serum for this truth and almost says “take this to see how far the rabbit hole goes”. I kept paying attention every time she was on screen just to see if the writer included a variation of that line at any given moment. Thankfully, it never happened, but I expected it to come at any moment. Meanwhile Liu looks so bored in this role, and I feel her pain.

This was such a droning, mind-numbing, and god awfully pretentious experience, and at only ninety minutes, this was one of the longest experiences of my movie-going life. I love intelligent films when they’re intelligent, but for pretentious films trying to be intelligent, the only one who suffers are the audience. Liu is such a broad character and never once achieves a level of superior charisma or acting amidst the low level production, and Northam never comes out of this unscathed either. Northam is boring and very over the top. He’s supposed to be a character who is content in his run of the mill corporate life, but discovers it’s not really what it’s colored as. Not once does he ever explore emotions. His performance is one note throughout the movie looking stale and bored, and it’s so obvious watching him stagger through the movie.

He’s this obnoxious character from the beginning, but when he discovers the truth, he’s still obnoxious and becomes wooden. Meanwhile the plot is never really explained to us, nor is the utterly confusing, illogical, and ridiculous climax. Why did the companies keep their employees in such a condition and resort to such mind-washing when they could have just hired them and kept them in line? It doesn’t make a lick of sense, nor does the writer ever look like he’s trying to at any point during the film. In the end, you get the sense that something has just happened, but what? What’s the point? While the concept has potential to become brilliant and exceptional, ultimately it’s wildly ill-conceived on-screen with a droning, derivative, mind-numbing, and incredibly bad film.