NARCOPOLIS [Edinburgh Film Festival]

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Marshall

Twenty years in the future, all recreational drugs have been legalised and their manufacturers have grown rich and powerful. When a police officer responsible for rounding up black market dealers discovers a mysterious dead body that might have a link to the corporate overlords, he sets about proving it.

One of the many frustrating things about Narcopolis it is that despite the title, illicit substances actually play very little part in its story. The name conjures images of a dystopian noir within a futuristic megacity of incandescent neon and rotting slums, a cyberpunk nightmare where everyone is so high on designer narcotics the promise of the future has decayed into a haze of drugged-out despair. Which sounds awesome.

Instead, what we have is little more than a sci-fi police procedural, but one less than the weakest episode of Almost Human. The unnecessarily convoluted plot can’t decide what kind of story it’s trying to tell and so ends up cramming in several at once to the detriment of them all. It also commits the cardinal sin of failing to establish the rules of the world it portrays, meaning that any old crap can be thrown into the mix should the plot demand it, which, without wanting to give too much away, it does several times.

Even so, its quasi-futuristic trash might have been faintly enjoyable were it not for the utterly gormless protagonist. If he’s not getting warned off, beaten up or outsmarted (or hiding unlicensed weaponry in his young son’s bedroom), he’s having flashbacks to when he was an unreliable junkie screw-up. A main character of a plucky underdog might work well for some films, but for a police officer it just ends up looking pathetic.

Most egregiously, when faced with a specific and distinctive word acting as an enormous clue to the truth behind what’s going on, he completely fails to ascribe any significance to it, despite having first encountered it only the previous night. Yes, it can be satisfying for the audience when they’re ahead of the characters, but that should be on account of their intelligence rather than the film’s stupidity.

Despite an interesting premise and an opening sequence far superior to anything else in the entire film, Narcopolis should just take a hit from one of its bottom-feeding addicts and sit quietly drooling in the corner while everyone ignores it.

INFO: NARCOPOLIS / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JUSTIN TREFGARNE / STARRING: ELLIOT COWAN, ELODIE YUNG, COSIMA SHAW, MOLLY GAISFORD, ROBERT BATHURST, JONATHAN PRYCE, JAMES CALLIS / RELEASE DATE: TBC

Expecting Rating: 8 out 10

Actual Rating:
 


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