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Dorian's Movie Reviews & Critiques

Is it worth seeing? Reviews are presented with no cynicism, no comparisons, no biased standards, no pretentiousness - every movie is reviewed on its individual entertainment value including technical presentation.

Note that a critique for writers follows the review.

Copyright © 2018 Dorian Scott Cole

spotlite 8 spotlite
Scale 1 - 10

2018, Production Co.: K5. Distributor: Primarily Netflix, and others worldwide
Directed by Andrew Niccol
Written by Andrew Niccol
Rating: - TV-MA
Genre: Crime, thriller, suspense, futuristic, sci-fi

Can you believe what your eyes see? In a future world where everything seen is recorded and saved to a file, crime is much easier to solve. That technology exists now in its infancy. But criminals are always one step ahead. Anything digital can be deleted or altered to fool even the person who experienced the event.

Detective Sal Frieland (Clive Owen) lands a case of unusual murders. Memory files that could explain the murder seem to be gone and in the file the person only saw from the murderer's point of view. He narrows the murderer to a hacker with no identity. In an elaborate ruse to catch her (Ima Aug, played by Afiya Bennett), he has an affair with her. Then in a cat and mouse game he must catch her and risk killing her.

But is the anonymous hacker really the killer?

The plot is deliciously set up and played out. We don't want the hacker to die, but she's a serial murderer isn't she? It keeps us in suspense and guessing, and the twist at the end is true to the story. The writer and producers handled the complex recorded memory situation very well. Well played.

The characters in this movie are compelling. Frieland is a suffering detective, brooding over the loss of his young son. As a character he seems archetypal and too typical. The hacker is mysterious and wants to remain anonymous, remaining an enigma until the end. But this is a thriller where the plot and action are more important and characterization typically isn't very deep.

Grab some popcorn. Enjoy!

Engaging: Very.
Boring: A little slow.
Confusing: No.
Characters: Compelling performances
Entertaining: Yes - beginning to end
Plot: Excellent.
Uniqueness and originality: High
Surprises: Yes
Recommend this movie to others: Highly

Emotional reaction to the movie (the following are from a work in progress):

  • Film Mood: Brooding, mysterious, suspenseful, thriller (slow burn).
  • Film ethos* (feelings left with): Appropriately romantic, sympathetic, skillful.
  • Film Energy: Plodding, engaging, determined.
  • Film Outlook: Warning about the future.
* Ethos: The disposition, character, or fundamental values peculiar to a specific person, people, culture, or movement.
- The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from INSO Corporation. All rights reserved.

Technical and critique

My comments below attempt to draw attention to technical things that make a movie good, especially if they made major contributions. For professional judgments on these various arts, the reader should consult professionals in these arts, and realize that these notes are not necessarily part of the overall rating for entertainment value.

  • Writing - Female lead excellent, detective, good. Seven spotlights.
  • Acting - Excellent performances. Nine spotlights.
  • Casting - Well chosen. Nine spotlights.
  • Directing - the scenes flowed well; the story was cohesive; the drama was told more visually than many films of this era; and good overall production. Nine spotlights.
  • Lighting - Physical action was always plain and not obscured. Ten spotlights.
  • Production design - Excellent sets that worked well with the story and were cinematically exciting. The location scouts really excelled at finding these locations. Ten spotlights.
  • Special effects - excellent integration of memory file scenes with real scenes, and distortion that indicated change. Ten spotlights.
  • Editing - the action flowed smoothly, captured good action and character reactions, and put together a very coherent story. Ten spotlights.
  • Music - seamless, and complimented the action. Did not call attention to itself. Nine spotlights.
  • Costume design - Individualized and appropriate. Nine spotlights.
  • Choreography of the set (distortions indicating change) with the character actions, which helped tell the story - Excellent. Ten spotlights.
  • Cinematography - well executed and told the story visually as much as written. Ten spotlights.

Story critique: what worked well, what didn't, and why?

I liked almost everything the production personnel did with this story, from writing to actual production. The thing that didn't work for me was the too typical flawed detective who brooded, which doesn't work well in a thriller, which are more typically rapidly paced. Especially the cigarette smoking. It shouldn't be in modern movies. But beyond that the scenes of people drinking and smoking, brooding over things, just doesn't work that well in a thriller. I felt the detective character could have been drawn better.

Minor problems with the detective characterization, it was really good and well worth watching.

- Dorian

  • 10 Spotlights: The best of movie making, well worth seeing (rarely given)
  • 8 Spotlights: Good movie for the genre; may have minor technical or story problems but they hardly harm the enjoyment; clearly worth seeing; (most movies)
  • 6 Spotlights: Not bad, but has deficiencies - worth seeing
  • 4 Spotlights: Caution - a "B" movie, probably will appeal only to some
  • 1 Spotlight: Caution - not recommended for any audience (will probably never be given)

My reviews are not based much on my personal taste, or any standard besides entertainment value. I try to be as objective as possible, keeping in mind that entertainment value is very subjective and individualized. If I'm not interested in a movie I usually don't go see it, so it doesn't get reviewed. Each character, and each position in the production company might be highlighted if the contribution affected the enjoyment of the story as either outstanding or dismal and I noticed it, keeping in mind that many contributions are singularly distinguished by their seamless integration with the story, not calling attention to themselves and thereby escaping attention.

- Dorian Scott Cole

Inevitable Legal Disclaimer: The views expressed on this page are only opinions and should be regarded as opinions by the reader.

Other distribution restrictions: None

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