Cypher
4 out of 5 stars
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After the stunning thriller Cube, Canadian director Natali continues to examine themes of control and reality with this deeply involving and visually fascinating thriller. Morgan Sullivan (Northam) is a nerdy computer geek who applies for a corporate espionage job with the massive computer firm Digicorp. His sinister new boss (Bennett) puts him deep undercover attending conferences around the country, and he really warms to the idea of life as a suave super-spy. Then he meets a mystery woman (Liu) who seems to know much more than he does, and opens his eyes to what's really going on, which turns him into a double agent with another secretive boss (Webber) at another top computer company. But Morgan starts to loose his grip: Who is he actually? And who's really pulling the strings here?

Natali and cinematographer Derek Rogers take us into a desaturated world with flashes of colour, which gives the film a seductively futuristic look and a grippingly paranoid tone. Combined with Northam's insinuating, constantly shifting performance, this draws us in at first with curiosity, then with an almost uncontrollable sense of panic as we travel this journey with Morgan to get to the bottom of this creepy spy-vs-spy-vs-spy underworld. Liu is excellent as well, keeping things thoroughly confusing and enigmatic until the very end. This is a funny, nerve-wracking film that deals with issues of identity and corporate control in a much more involving way than The Matrix. As Morgan discovers that he can trust no one, including himself, he realizes that his only hope for salvation is to find someone to trust! It's a brilliant concept, cleverly written by King and directed with confidence and style by Natali. Can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

cert 15 themes, language, suspense 17.Jun.03

dir Vincenzo Natali
scr Brian King
with Jeremy Northam, Lucy Liu, Nigel Bennett, Timothy Webber, David Hewlett, Kari Matchett, Matthew Sharp, Joseph Scoren, Anne Marie Scheffler, Nelson Tynes
release UK 29.Aug.03
02/Canada 1h36

Buried in layers of lies: Northam.

northam liu
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send your review to Shadows... sw Steve, France: 4 out of 5 stars "It's well-made and original ... and confusing. Everything fits right and you have to enjoy it, the only thing I'm not sure I understand is why he has to do all that to get the girl. So I did understand everything, I think, except that."
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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