125 user 82 critic

Cypher (2002)

An unsuspecting, disenchanted man finds himself working as a spy in the dangerous, high-stakes world of corporate espionage. Quickly getting way over-his-head, he teams up with a mysterious femme fatale.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Digicorp Technician #1
Stephen Brown ...
Digicorp Technician #2
Pilot In Mensroom
Jocelyn Snowdon ...
Stewardess to Buffalo
Fred Garfield
Steve Jackson ...
Waiter Buffalo
Dan Duran ...
Buffalo Speaker #1
Buffalo Speaker #2


Hoping for a more exciting life than the suburban drawl he currently inhabits, nerdy salary man Morgan Sullivan takes a job as an industrial spy at Digicorp, a global computer corporation. Digicorp assigns him the duty of flying to various conventions around America, recording the speeches that are made. But when Sullivan meets a mysterious woman he begins to realize that his job may not be what it seems, as he descends into a dark underworld of brainwashing and struggles to maintain his own identity. Written by beansproutlord@yahoo.com.au

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Trust No One. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 January 2003 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Company Man  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$7,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the final scene (on the sailboat) the information contained on the disc reveals numerous details about Rita Foster's life leading up to the reason Sunways Systems wants her executed; however, the text flashes past the screen too quickly for the audience to read. The following is the information exactly as it appears on the disc:

Sunways Security File # 247174y510987h3df8708 This is a Code Orange File. Any persons found in possession of this material without adequate Level 6 Security Clearance will be immediately prosecuted under Sunways Special Order 43875. FOSTER, RITA Sunways Security File #247174y514543gcfdgfc jge454u5 Foster, Rita A.K.A. Dr. Kelley Doris, Natassia Sarbinski, Amy Green, Namie Tsukemodo, Yi Fung-Yu, Kitty Wells, Ju Pau Killbit, Horatia Delusentopolis, Jill Hopkins, Akita Spools, Francesca Pistolesi, Dorlissa "Hurricane" Trubadore, Anias Schmidt, Antionette Dubois, Ilsa Von Kustanst, Erica Sinyor, Ika Vital Stats: Sex: Female, Race: Asian, Height: 5' 6'', Weight: 105 pounds Born: January 6, 1971 Education: Peking Opera, PHD in Criminology and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University Present whereabouts: Unknown Orphaned at the age of four when her parents were executed by government shock troops for "insurgency and anarchist ties". Rita Foster's original name was Tsing Lung. She was adopted by a family of circus acrobats known as the Panda Clan, famous for unusual "Panda-like" black markings on their skin. To protect her from the clutches of the state orphanage they painted ( * illegible text * ) to resemble their own and took her on a cross country tour. Under Panda tutelage, Foster became a first rate contortionist, performing in the small towns and villages which dot the countryside of the Southern provinces of China. In 1976, Hong Tao, a former strongman saw her act. Recognizing her talent, he brought her to the Peking Opera where she endured the rigors acrobat training. By the age of ten, she became a featured trapeze artist. In spite of her success, she longed to escape from the brutal life of the circus. During the 1982 world tour of the Peking Opera, she defected to the West. Her first home outside of China was in Rome, Italy, where she scraped together a living as street performer. Little is known of this period. It has been rumored that ( * illegible text * ) SABASTIAN ROOKS, who at that time may have orchestrated the illegal sale of priceless artifacts from the Vatican. The procurement of these religious objects was secretly ordered by the highest echelons of the Catholic Church to assist in easing its own financial woes. Foster may have been employed by Rooks to help steal these items from vaults hidden deep in the bowels of the Vatican City and later replace them with flawless forgeries. Most famous of these pieces was the Shroud of Turin which Rooks is rumored to have kept for himself. In 1983, exactly one year later, Foster crossed the Atlantic to New York. It is at this time that Foster acquired her American name and citizenship, presumably with the assistance of Rooks. Foster had little difficulty adopting to the American lifestyle having studied English in Italy. In a very short period of time, she became a fashion model. By the age of sixteen she was courted by New York's top agencies, but she turned her back on the fashion industry when she was accepted to Stanford University. There she studied behavioral sciences, eventually specializing in criminology. Her 1994 graduate thesis "Aberrant Behavior of the Unconscious Criminal" caused a great controversy, linking criminal behavior with the subconscious mind. Foster argued that latent identities exist in recesses of the cerebral cortex. Some of these identities are antisocial by nature and therefore inclined to criminal behavior. Her paper argued that these aberrant entities served an essential function in the evolution of our social design. "By challenging moral standards they invoke change." Therefore she reasoned antisocial behavior is a positive force for societal progression. So explosive was this notion that the Stanford psychology department tried to suppress the publication of Foster's findings. Angered but unable to fight back Foster turned her back on academia. At this critical juncture in her life, Rooks once again appeared on the scene. There is no clear evidence of their meeting but close friends of Foster claimed that she had been invited to a remote island in the South Pacific to spend time on Rooks' yacht. In 1996 all traces of Foster vanished. While there is no conclusive evidence to link her to Rooks' operations in this period, she may have participated in Rooks' famous "Triad Info Highjacking". This constituted a major security breach within the Triad of megacorporations, of which Sunways is a member. It would seem that Foster had come to embody her own thesis of the criminal mind. She is suspected of helping Rooks spread disinformation to Sunways' sister company, New Paths Technologies and send agents in Sunways' most sensitive information centers. By the end of 2000 it became apparent that Rita Foster was Rook's number one operative. Whenever Sunways has required Rooks' services, his chief representative has been Foster. While contact with her remains indirect, it appears that her relationship with Rooks may extend beyond the professional. In other words, Foster may be Rooks' Achilles heel. If she is destroyed, Sunways may have a chance of seriously damaging Rooks' counter-Triad operations. It is the recommendation of the Sunways Security Chief Francis C. Callaway that Rita Foster be targeted for elimination. This a Code Orange Termination Order. Code #48754354. Terminate with extreme prejudice. ( * over her photo * ) TERMINATE WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE

If all of this information is true, it adds another dimension to the story because Rooks and Foster have been troublemakers all along. They have not simply fallen victim to ruthless corporate brainwashing. They have a history of criminal conduct - coupled with criminal ideologies - which has embroiled them in the inner workings of these ruthless corporations. Now, they are forced to take desperate measures to eradicate their troubled past.

Then again, perhaps some or all of the information on the disc was simply fabricated by Sunways Systems to justify the termination order. For example: Security Chief Callaway may have a personal issue with Foster, so he has fabricated her past history to justify his issuance of her termination order.

In either case, the disc's information adds another dimension to the story.

As an aside, the following items are interesting to note:

1. The Sunways Systems security file numbers are similar for the first nine characters but change for the remainder of the string.

2. The surname of one of Foster's alias's is Killbit. A killbit is a security feature in web browsers (based on Microsoft technology) with the main purpose of closing security holes. If a security hole is located, a request can be made for Microsoft to put out a killbit for it. In the film, Foster is deemed a security risk so a killbit request - the termination order - has been put out for her.

Also, the surname resembles the film series _Kill Bill_ in which Lucy Liu portrayed O-Ren "Cottonmouth" Ishii.

3. Foster's height is listed as 5' 6'' whereas Lucy Liu is 5' 3'' in height.

4. Foster's date of birth is given as 06 January 1971. Vincenzo Natali, the film's director, was born on 06 January 1969.

5. Rooks's first name is misspelled as Sabastian on the disc. His true name is Sebastian Rooks which appears when he logs in to the console of the helicopter he designed. (Presumably, he knows how to spell his own name correctly, and has used the correct spelling while designing the login prompt.) See more »


Morgan Sullivan's fake California Driver's License expires on 05-30-03. His birth date is listed as 08-13-65. An actual CDL would expire on the same day as the licensee's birth date. Even the cheapest of fake ID's wouldn't overlook this important point. See more »


[first lines]
Sunways Security Guard: You planning a vacation, Mr. Sullivan?
Morgan Sullivan: No. No, just some reading to pass the time.
See more »


References Johnny Mnemonic (1995) See more »


Never Been In Love
Written by: Scott Nickoley, Stephen Lang, and Jamie Dunlap
See more »

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User Reviews

Vincenzo Natali follows up the best science fiction movie of the 1990s with another stylish and intelligent mind blowing experience!
26 March 2004 | by See all my reviews

Vincenzo Natali's feature debut 'Cube' was in my opinion the best science fiction movie of the 1990s. By "science fiction" I'm not meaning Star Wars style space opera aimed at 13 year olds, but mind expanding storytelling in the tradition of Philip K. Dick, Robert Silverberg and William Gibson. Or movies like 'Bladerunner', 'Brazil', 'Dark City' and 'eXistenZ', and yes (just in case you think I'm a mindless Lucas basher) 'THX 1138', a movie which Natali incidentally cited as an inspiration for 'Cube'. It's been a long wait but 'Cypher' is certainly worth it. This is a very stylized and cerebral film which Natali describes as being "Kafka meets James Bond", and he's not joking. There have been a few Philip K. Dick adaptations in the last few years but they always seem to lose the quirkiness and intelligence of his work and degenerate into big expensive action movies. 'Cypher' isn't actually based on a PKD story but in many ways it's the closest thing to his fiction yet seen on a movie screen. Apart from the two leads the cast is made up of Canadian character actors, which gives it a freshness missing from many contemporary Hollywood productions. 'Cube' co-star and long time Natali friend David Hewlett has a memorable role as the creepy Vergil Dunn, keeper of The Vault. He gives one of the best performances in the movie. Incidentally, also keep an eye out for a brief cameo by Valerie Buhagier, star of Bruce McDonald's cult favourites 'Roadkill' and 'Highway 61' in one of the conference scenes. The main stars are unusual picks. Brit actor Jeremy Northam has appeared in a few big American movies but is still pretty much unknown to most audiences. He uses this to his advantage and gives a terrific performance. I honestly can't imagine anyone else doing this difficult role any better. Lucy Liu plays the femme fatale part to perfection. Maybe she's just trying to get indie cred by appearing in 'Cypher', but who cares when she gives a good performance in a great movie. Plus she looks damn fine! 'Cube' has already become a cult favourite, and there's no doubt in my mind that 'Cypher' will do the same. I think audiences will be discovering both movies for years to come. Vincenzo Natali is shaping up to be one of the most exciting genre directors currently working and I'm really looking forward to what he comes up with next!

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