By Andy Chandler
Every single streaming service lives or dies by the quality of the films it makes on it’s own, no costly deals to acquire TV shows or studio’s entire back-catalogues, oh no, just great new things for us to watch…mostly.
It seems for every ‘Stranger Things’ we get a ‘Hemlock Grove’, and then you get a weird film that doesn’t seem to fit either catergory. That’s the film I’m reviewing this week: Anon.
I’m a big fan of Clive Warren, sorry, Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried can do no wrong where the box office is concerned so taking these two pretty big names and throwing them into an intense technology-based thriller surely has ‘hit’ written all over it?
Anon is one of the first attempts by Sky Movies to deliver original content to it’s woefully broken NowTV service. Ok, the content is pretty great but it just randomly stops streaming mid-film and no amount of calls to helplines will fix this, they just blame your internet provider and ask if there’s anything else you want help with. “Errr, yes there is Craig, you can explain to me why Netflix and Amazon Prime work fine with my internet provider but your service doesn’t!” Breathe.
Anyways, yes, back to Anon: In a modern world where advanced implants mean everyone is subjected to a relentless visual stream of information they call the “Mind’s Eye”, privacy and anonymity as we know them have vanished.
With everyone’s personal information on public display and each person’s life recorded down to the millisecond, personal information is downloaded to a vast grid called “The Ether”, a database which law enforcement can access and use to prosecute criminals.
Sal Frieland (Owen) is faced with a series of shocking murders which appear to be linked. The police find themselves unable to identify the killers. It soon becomes apparent that what the murders have in common signals a major breakdown in the system on which society has come to rely.
As he delves into the case, Frieland encounters a woman who seems to have no identity. Something he initially assumes is a minor glitch becomes the first clue that security of the “Mind’s Eye” has been compromised, sending Frieland into a mission where he acts as bait to trap someone who effectively does not exist before they kill again….
Intriguing premise right? Not only is it incredibly absorbing but it reeks of Black Mirror and that can’t be a bad thing. It’s essentially a tale about the double-edged-sword that is social media and the internet. Yes it’s nice to be connected to Moira and Dave but what happens when those concepts get negatively spun?
Well, watch his film and bare witness to one of the slickest thrillers of recent years. It looks great, even if it leans so heavily on Black Mirror that you can almost feel Charlie Brooker’s annoyed stare burning into you when the credits role. But I don’t mind that, Black Mirror is some of the greatest storytelling of the last decade so to have films aiming for that is, in my opinion, a good thing.
Anon wanders a little too close to style over substance but it’s plot and intrigue do just enough to keep you hooked for the entire 100 minute run time. It’s tense, it’s pretty and even makes you feel a tad like a techno-phobe who wants to throw their phone away and not be a part of the society that we seem to be happily hurtling towards.
So by the very essence of that, Anon does what it sets out to do. It just falls a tad flat if you’ve watched Black Mirror because it feels like you’ve seen these very concepts covered in a far tenser, slicker and better way before.