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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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
The film may be alluding to the Divine Comedy by Dante, in which Dante seeks a woman he has admired from afar, Beatrice. In Cypher the hero seeks Rita, a name which can be constructed from the middle four letters of Beatrice. See more »
When Morgan is given his fake California ID, it shows a Blue and a Red Bar below the name and address. The Blue line is to denote a provisional license for those under 18 at the time of issuance, and the red bar is to denote what year the ID holder turns 21. Morgan appears to be in his 30's, so there would be no colored bars on his ID. See more »
The second feature from Vincenzo Natali (director of the cult film Cube, if you haven't seen it, go check it out) comes this tantalizing sci-fi with hints of film noir blended together to create a smart and puzzling piece of espionage, double-cross with numerous twists and turns.
Set in an alternative reality where a bored business man Morgan Sullivan (played with bookish awkwardness by Jermery Northam) decides to apply for a job at a global computer firm Digicorp. He successfully passes the rigorous test and learns he is to work as a spy to steal information from their rivals Sunways Systems. Morgan is given a new identity (Jack Thursby) where he attends these business conferences to retrieve and relay information back to Digicorp.
Morgan starts off thinking that this would be an adventure where he can re-invent himself as the man he'd like to be. When he spots a mysterious woman (Rita played by Lucy Lui), he tries his luck, only to be blown off. As he sent on further conferences he starts to experience extreme headaches where masses of images explode in his mind which he doesn't comprehend. When he spots Rita again in his hotel again he follows her to the rooftop where she explains to him that all is not what it seems at the conferences he is going to.... and that's when the fun starts. Here is the beginning of the many twist and turns involved in the film.
Set in monochromatic colours, where there is light there is shadow and the whole film seems to be set in a neo film noir colouring of greys and whites. There is a distinct style that the film tries to go for and mostly achieves. A world, which is not dissimilar to our own, is bought to life by the high contrast and sharp detail by cinematographer Derek Rogers giving the whole feel a cold, calculated and cool precision look.
The performances by Jeremy Northam provides the main focus as we see his transformation from a bland everyday businessman into a paranoid agent who allegiances is divided and is unsure of who to trust and who to follow. By the end of the film he becomes a completely different person and is a measured piece of acting by Northam. Lucy Lui also plays the role of the femme fatale very well and isn't playing her usual spoilt brat routine (which is normally very unbearable for me). All other supporting cast do a decent enough job but it's not really a film to really rave on about the acting side of things.
The most impressive thing about this, is learning that the film was initial financed by family and friends on their credit cards and was only pick up later on by a major distributor and with a larger budget (even then it's only $7.5 million) to work on, it looks amazing. Shot in very little time, it's a puzzler that isn't too hard to work out (though you will need a little concentration to follow it) but to fully appreciate it, I would suggest you don't view the trailer, otherwise a lot of the key plot points maybe ruined and the surprises and twists will be foreseen. All in all it's very stylist sci-fi thriller with plenty to give the brain a workout.
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