Written & Directed By: Jason Lei Howden
Cinematography: Stefan Ciupek
Editor: Luke Haigh & Zaz Montana
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving, Rhys Darby, Ned Dennehy, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Milo Cawthorne, Mark Rowley, Colin Moy
Miles is stuck in a dead-end job, still in love with his ex-girlfriend Nova. Unbeknownst to him, a gang called Skizm is running a deadly competition within his city in which complete strangers fight to the death for the entertainment of an online audience of millions. Miles soon finds himself caught up in the game and forced to fight in a battle to the death. Initially, Miles’ lifetime of running from his problems pays off as he manages to elude his first opponent but when Nova is kidnapped, he must finally stop running and overcome his fears to fight for the girl he loves.
The filmmaker found himself recently in some trouble due to bullying online. Which is ironic as that is essentially what this film is about and tries to exploit while also preaching against in the most extreme ways. Which he seems to have done right before the films release and has been accused of in the past. He has been accused of doing it to movie critics in particular.
It’s a particular shame because as a film director Jason Lei Howden is talented and here he has made another great guilty pleasure film that is inventive yet silly at the same time For this review I am going to stay away from discussions of his personal politics and mine and try to just keep the review on the work that is presented here.
The movie tries to mainline the audience on adrenaline which is why the action happens so fast. The film Feels like an immersive experience and gives us a regular guy protagonist for us to identify with who loves out a nightmare that might just be his salvation as he feels more alive and gets out of his shell and learns to en assertive as he has to to survived
The film keeps up the tempo by having constant video game sounds as part of it’s Soundtrack and the theme to scenes. Keeping the film and the audiences heartbeat on edge. As the film stays feisty and always over the top.
The film is a definite genre picture undated to 1980’s/1990’s type action. Where it feels like a video game itself and also calls itself out ad one. To make it seem meta and In the know.
The film is in the same vein of GAMER, CRANK, CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE, MAYHEM, THE BELKO EXPERIMENT, DREDD, OFFICER DOWNE and THE RUNNING MAN. That offer a nihilistic view of the future yet also have a cynical attitude and usually are quite violent.
The film is an over the top genre exercise that are more like ID’s. Where the audience can get off on hidden guilty pleasures being exposed to and for the audience. To partially take part In without any of the guilt. It’s more about experiencing rather then too much thought. This is obviously a film for those more seeking a pumped up kind of action film experience. As the film seeks to be it’s Own audience but is impressive with what it does and gets away with, with a smaller budget.