Cypher

November, 2003, Thriller

Directed by:Vincenzo Natali

Starring:Jeremy Northam, Lucy Liu, Nigel Bennett, and Timothy Webber

Even the inestimable Jeremy Northam, (The Winslow Boy, Gosford Park) can’t save this low budget techno-thriller from its overheated pretensions - - but the premise is wonderful. 

Northam plays an industrial spy whose real identity must be completely erased so that he can successfully carry out an undercover assignment for his client. But what’s a spy to do when he no longer has enough sense of himself to know whether he’s actually doing what he’s been hired to do?

Overused special effects and cinematographic techniques more commonly found in a film school master’s project mar Cypher and Northam plays the questionable hero in a style far too bland for the storyline’s hypertensive premise, but the film’s first half hour provides a deliciously wicked level of paranoia. 

The verdict? Nifty idea, but poorly exploited.

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