Director: Travis Milloy
Writer: Travis Milloy
Stars: Christopher Soren Kelly, Cassandra Clark, Cajardo Lindsey
Plot: A man trapped in an automated prison must outsmart a computer in order to escape.
Running Time: 1 hour 43 Minutes
Why I Watched It: This was a Netflix pick for me, it was a new titles looked alright and of course it was genre so I gave it a go.
Random Thoughts: This is an indie small budget film but because it’s genre it doesn’t get the buzz some other films do, I always think it’s important to find new directors, new voices, and see what they can do with little budget and little means what that usually means is they will focus on story instead of special effects and bells and whistles.
What I liked: This is a smaller film than I thought, basically one location, well like three but we stay in one main one, plus really only four speaking parts and it’s a Sci-Fi movie with really no special effects but what it does have going for it is a very good central performance from Christopher Soren Kelly and it’s a smartly written film no matter what the genre. On paper it seems like a man versus a computer but it’s more than that, this film has a few things to say and what it really does well is show us not only the drawbacks of technology but the limitations it puts on us. The film is also about being in prison and what it does to us, the big thing with this film is that your mind can be a prison and you can think you’re way out.
The thing with this film is that it begins with a standard setup, man wakes up in a prison and he doesn’t know why now the only twist is that it’s in the future but instead of guards he has a computer guarding and also looking after him. One of the best parts is the interaction with the prisoner and the computer who is named Howard They do a nice job of not making Howard the bad guy but they do show us through Howard the draw backs of technology, making something that has human qualities is not the same as making something human. As you can tell the film does cover familiar ground but for the most part they keep the mystery of who this guy is and why he’s there and also can he get out. In the end the film is a prison break movie but using more your mind than brawl to find a way out.
I did really like Christopher Soren Kelly and I will say Cassandra Clark is also very good here and the two of them had really good chemistry, I won’t go into details cause it does have some spoilers to it but they’re relationship and how it evolves is very well written. With that yes the film does have a couple of twists and turns and it really has to has we know nothing for almost the first third of the film so of course the film has to start giving us a plot to follow. A couple of the twists were pretty well written and the film does keep you guessing.
What I Didn’t Like: The film is way too long and it does really hurt the flow of the film. I complain all the time about run time and it’s not the length of the film is the length of the story you have to tell, if you have a 2 hour story then tell it with a 2 hour run time but if you have an 80 minute story don’t use 1 hour and 43 minutes. If the film was tighter it would have worked better. The film not only drags but gets really repetitive, I get it he’s in jail but you’ve set that up already we don’t have to keep going back. Also by my count they do three false finishes, where you think he’s out or it’s done and it just keeps going and then we go to another one. It’s a smart moving but it does over think it and it does recover ground too much. This kind of film needs to be tight and once they have the set up in play they need to up the anti gives us more. Now they had small budget and really there’s not much action in this, almost everything is driven by dialogue so I get they want us to guess at things but the film it’s a point by the end of the second act where I was worried this was going nowhere.
The other drawback the film has it kind of feels like a second rate episode of Black Mirror, a technology based prison set up is in their wheelhouse. Also they throw a lot of ideas and a lot of talk but at times it doesn’t seem like they’re really saying anything, and if the film has a flaw is that by the end it plays more like a thriller and an escape movie than a movie that has some things to say about technology.
Final Thoughts: I liked the film is was better than I had hope not perfect but for the most part I thought it was well written and the acting kept me watching.