Reviews | Written by Michael Coldwell 03/05/2018

ANON

From May this year, it will be illegal for companies to contact you in the UK via any means that you have not explicitly ‘opted in’ to. This has been a long time coming and should go some way to stamping out the insidious scourge of incomprehensible call centre funwits who plague us at the worse possible times. But are we truly able to take back our privacy from big corporations like Facebook, who - let’s face it - have already sold our personal data so far down the river we may as well change our collective name to Kurtz?

Anon is a stylishly lean thriller in the Black Mirror mould that director/writer Andrew Niccol went a long way to creating back in 1997 with his first feature Gattaca and has been revisiting ever since. This time, we all have biosyn implants in our brains that record every millisecond of our POV experiences and uploaded them to a cloud storage network known as ‘the Ether’. Naturally, this has removed all concept of privacy but, on the upside, it’s made crime-busting a bit of a cinch. That is, until the day someone hacks into the system and over-writes a series of murders with visual patches that cover up the killers’ tracks. Enter chain-smoking gumshoe loner-cop Sal (Clive Owen), who - by a rather large coincidence - has seen a mysterious woman on the street (Amanda Seyfried) without a digital footprint of any kind…

Knowing full well we know his territory, Niccol skips the preamble and sets his concept up within the first few minutes with a clever sequence that shows the world as Owen sees it - through his Google Glass-style minds-eye. Script-wise, it sails gleefully close to Philip K. Dick by giving us Blade Runner’s gumshoe loner, Total Recall’s paranoid memory replacement tech and Minority Report’s future cop whodunnit - all of which fit right in here like a comfortable pair of slippers. There’s also the distinct aroma of another old friend, Videodrome, both in the rabbit-hole relationship between the curious protagonist and enigmatic femme fatale and in the employment of neural technology as a hallucinatory weapon again our hero. Shake in a generous dash of The Matrix and you’ve got yourself a tall cool glass of classic dystopia.

Somehow or other, Clive Owen is now a fifty-something (we obviously weren’t paying attention) and plays the extra years to his advantage. The images of his haunted face as it relives, and then loses, the precious memories of his son will stay in your own personal memory cloud long after the credits have rolled. Seyfried is suitably alluring as his unnamed prey and leads him a merry dance before, somewhat inevitably, jumping on him like a lascivious tiger. Age difference be damned, this is Hollywood.

A high-concept popcorn movie and none the worse for that, Anon gets the tech noir job done and will leave you pondering your digital footprint as you nervously exit the theatre. Mind the step.

ANON / CERT:15 / DIRECTOR: ANDREW NICCOL / SCREENPLAY: ANDREW NICCOL / STARRING: CLIVE OWEN, AMANDA SEYFRIED, COLM FEORE / RELEASE DATE: MAY 11TH

Expected Rating: 7 out of 10

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