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Life on Mars: Episode #2.6 (2007)
The episode has a lot going for it. This is the first time that the inspectors have encountered heroine; this is the first Indian-centered investigation (although everyone loves eating a good "curry"); and the lovely Alex Reid plays a significant role. The plot moves along at a nice clip and there's significant tie-back to Sam's future life.
There is, however, a problem. Why was Sam clubbed and Annie kidnapped? It seems to me that Toolbox and Big Bird's scheme was working perfectly well: the drugs they planted in Maya's storage containers has the cops believing that Maya and his brother Deepak were guilty. There was no need for them to abduct / kill Sam and Annie. And then -- after they do this -- why provide their current location to headquarters? This would only bring more cops to the scene (as it did).
I think it would have played out better if Toolbox and Big Bird had found Maya first and shot him while Sam and Annie watched, and *then* they tied Sam and Annie up. But hey, I don't write these things for a living.
Life on Mars: Episode #2.1 (2007)
Throughout Season One, DI Sam Tyler has tried to convince his DCI Gene Hunt that employing best practices is the correct way to fight crime. Tyler demonstrates the use of forensic science. He preaches to not bully / terrorize suspects; to protect witnesses; to confront organized crime; to not jump to conclusions; to use dialogue to obtain results with suspects and witnesses; and to hold people accountable for their actions. Tyler always leads by example, and his methods prove effective.
In this episode, Tyler's examples have really started to pay off. Hunt is following Tyler's advice and doing things by the book. Tyler, however, has two problems: he *knows* the suspect is a ruthless murderer (Tyler puts him away 30 years hence), and he suspects the suspect is trying to kill him while he lays in a coma (the underlying sub-plot). These two forces compel Tyler to abandon all of his principles and sink to committing the very police crimes he so disdains.
It's always easy to stick to principles on sunny days. Principles only matter when the going gets tough, and Tyler shows us that his don't run very deep. The question for us is: Do we forgive Tyler for these crimes since he obviously knows the future? (Do we implement the Minority Report?)
Unfortunately, the episode doesn't even begin to address this. Annie gets promoted, and Tyler is "proud to be on the team."
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
This is a bad movie. The screenplay and direction are horrible. Note that, according to IMDb, this is the only screenplay work that Gibson has done and the last film (thankfully) that Longo directed. There is barely any character development. The action scenes are miserable; the scenes where Johnny gets angry are highly exaggerated; there are few, if any closeups or alternate camera angles -- it just feels like rank amateurs made this film, and on a shoestring budget too.
Why see this movie? There are some neat concepts and a cool computer scene. Readers of Larry Niven's "Ringworld" get to see a "monofilament" wire in action (a single-molecule wire that's incredibly strong and slices through anything). The computer scene features 3D goggles and data gloves with a neat graphical user interface. The computer graphics in the rest of the film, however, reminded me of Tron.
Another reason to see Mnemonic is that there are some parallels to The Matrix, a film in which Keanu Reaves stars four years later. Both take place in a dark, futuristic world, with the protagonist holding the key to save humanity. The opening scene is almost a direct match with a scene in the Matrix: Johnny's computer wakes him up. Johnny has a device in his head which he uses to "jack in" to a computer system to upload / download data. There's an iconoclast leader of the underworld resistance that helps Johnny fight the "powers that be." Finally, the most striking visual parallel may be the character "Jones," who lives in a tank and is permanently connected to a computer, just like the people in The Matrix before they eat the red pill.
If you like this sort of genre (dark, oppressive futures where people struggle against powerful forces who treat them like chattel), you'll probably like Soylent Green more than this film.