Anon  (2018)

There's a mostly-unknown movie called "The Final Cut" that I saw years ago and really enjoyed. The premise was that in the future, people got implants that would record everything they saw and heard, and then at the end of their life an editor would go through all the footage and pick out the highlights (first dates, graduations, weddings, births, etc). "Anon" takes that idea a step beyond, where all people are equipped not only with "cameras" in their eyes and ears, but also hooked up to a massive network, essentially always connected to a mental internet, where you can know a person's name and age as you walk past them, relive certain memories, and of course leave yourself susceptible to hacking.

Sal Frieland (Clive Owen) is something of a cliche film-noir detective, hard-boiled, a bit of a drinker with a broken marriage in his rear view mirror. Detective work in this future can be a bit easier because everyone's actions are recorded. If I murder someone, the 'footage' is saved to my 'hard drive', where the cops can access it. Things start to unravel when we learn about hackers, who have the ability to erase portions of someone's memory. One exceptionally skilled hacker seems to be able to alter things in real-time, leading to Frieland seeing or hearing things that aren't really there.

Friend goes undercover to lure the hacker (Amanada Seyfried) out and find out why and how she is doing what she's doing. As anyone who bumped into Amanda Seyfried would, he gets too close, and his cover story isn't 100% perfect. The hacker discovers he's a cop and starts to manipulate his brain and pushing him down a spiral.

The concept and the visuals really make this movie stand out. Some elements of "Minority Report", some elements of "The Matrix", some elements of first-person-shooter video games all combine for what seems to be a plausible depiction of what the future could be. Google Glass was supposed to make it so we could look at something, know how much it cost, and order it without needing a computer or smartphone. "Anon" shows how just looking at a person reveals their name, age, occupation, height, weight, and other details. Want to remember your child's birth? Don't bother digging out your phone, don't rely on your imperfect brain; just replay the recording. It's crazy because we already complain about how addicted to our phones we are, how we instantly Google a potential date, how we take pictures and videos rather than live in the moment. Turning our brains into computers is just a highlight of those ideas.

I usually love Clive Owen, but here he just felt a bit flat. Even portraying the grizzled noir cop, it felt too emotionless. I love Amanda Seyfried, and while she nails the physical allure of the femme fatale, she doesn't quite pull off the sinister attitude of the hacker. The movie was also a bit convoluted with the explanation of how the murders are being committed, it takes a while to explain the conclusions the police come to and to how they're going to catch them and how everything twists and turns.

Despite some of the pacing and some of the acting, "Anon" is still fun for visuals and fun for the thought-experiment about how society would benefit or suffer from this sort of constant connection.

[Celluloid Hero] gives "Anon" a 6 out of 10.

 

 

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