DVD REVIEW: THE ANOMALY / CERT: 15 / DIRECTED: NOEL CLARKE / SCREENPLAY: SIMON LEWIS / STARRING: IAN SOMERHALDER, NOEL CLARKE, BRIAN COX, ALEXIS KNAPP, LUKE HEMSWORTH / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 27TH
One man British film industry Noel Clarke is in danger of losing the hard-won respect which earned him the Lawrence Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer in 2003 and the BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award in 2009. Ferociously driven and industrious, Clarke made serious waves with his tough, gritty urban dramas Kidulthood and Adulthood although he’d already come to a wider audience’s attention thanks to his role as Rose Tyler’s hapless boyfriend Mickey in Doctor Who in 2005. But his fondness for genre movies, and his apparent determination to become an action movie star risk sending him into rocky territory. The Anomaly follows up his enjoyable but poorly-received 2012 monster thriller Storage 24 and is, largely, a rather dull, woolly and derivative film with ambitions way above the capabilities of its budget.
The Anomaly doesn’t just wear its influences on its sleeve, it pretty much has them printed in large, friendly letters on T-shirts. It borrows fairly liberally (and almost shamelessly) from the Bourne movies, Source Code, The Matrix, Total Recall, and even entirely coincidentally, admittedly, this year’s Tom Cruise sci-fi yarn Edge of Tomorrow. Clarke plays Ryan, an ex-Army type who wakes up in the back of a van with a terrified kid whose mum’s just been shot by a bloke wearing a red hood. They escape from the van, run around a futuristic-looking London before Ryan discovers - gasp - a red hood in his pocket. Then he phases out of existence and reappears somewhere else entirely…
Turns out our Ryan is the unwilling guinea pig in a series of mind/body-control experiments being carried out the sinister Dr Langham (Cox) and his good-value sneery son Harkin (Somerhalder). Ryan spends just over nine minutes in one location before zapping off and reappearing somewhere and, sometimes, as someone else.
There are a few nice ideas buried deep in the mush of The Anomaly’s story - but they’re generally ideas we’ve seen more than once before and usually in films with a bit more cash to splash than this one. There are a handful of attempts at suggesting futuristic technology and some effective digital trickery but the whole enterprise is sunk not only by its leaden script and flat direction but, sadly, by Clarke’s largely uncharismatic performance. Slo-mo fight scenes lack energy and momentum and the story, opaque at the best of times, becomes virtually impenetrable as the film stumbles along to its conclusion.
It’s a shame that The Anomaly isn’t a better film because Clarke is clearly a cherishable British talent. But he’s doing himself no favours with stuff like this, which needs to be done with a lot more style, imagination, and money if it‘s to be even halfway credible. Much credit for trying to raise the profile of UK sci-fi cinema, but perhaps Noel might be better off for now turning his attentions to something a bit less ambitious and a bit more grounded.