WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
In the near future, crime is all but eliminated thanks to advances in surveillance that allow everyone’s lives to be transparent, traceable and recorded by authorities. Detective Sal Friedman (Clive Owen) however finds himself doing the impossible - working on a case involving a series of unsolved murders. Sal discovers a young woman (Amanda Seyfried) who has managed to subvert the system, with no identity, history or records - she seems to be connected to the murders but there is more than meets the eye.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Technology, big data and the implications of its inevitable advance and multitudes of uses are always going to evoke mixed reactions from different people. These days we share our data on everything we do in the form of social media posts, likes, music and video streams, online searches and even credit card purchases. In short, we’re leaving a massive digital footprint.
The world in Anon is set in a world not too far from now that seems entirely plausible, where the authorities have instant access to all of our metadata and privacy as a concept no longer exists (or at least it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone). The police can not only see your digital footprint but they can step into your shoes and take a walk.
Even that which is seen through the eyes of another is recorded meaning that privacy is well and truly dead. Just like my attention span halfway through this movie with such promise that failed to deliver in substance.
Anon does inspire some thought about the morality of technology and the concept of privacy in an increasingly digital world but that’s about it in terms of real substance, unfortunately. It asks us whether or not it is a good idea for us to trade in our privacy to the government (an omnipresent entity in Anon) for safety and security.
I like Clive Owen, he made bank heists less brawny and more brainy in Inside Man and he was in Children of Men which in itself is enough to warrant adulation in my book but in Anon, his acting is just okay. Just like the movie, it could have been great but it was just okay. Look we get it, the character has gone through some emotional stuff but the deadpan stuff really doesn’t help a very literally subdued, grey, almost colourless movie. Seriously, there is very little colour in this movie.
Amanda Seyfried is pretty good, however, playing to her character's strengths of quiet sensuality and mystery. But even she can’t save this movie from itself. Don’t get me wrong. It's really not terrible but it does feel like it could have been a lot better. Its a movie with a great premise that just fails in the execution with a bland narrative and too much on-screen graphics. I am only slightly exaggerating when I say that 30% of the screen time was dedicated to the ‘hacking’ animations that you see when the police attempt to access the visual stream of data they call ‘the Ether’.
After all the effort the movie puts in to build up this idea of an anonymous killer, the third act twist really just ends up being so uninspired that it really makes you think “is that it?” and that’s exactly how you end up leaving the cinema.
From the guy who brought us Gattaca and was a writer on The Truman Show, it is sad to see what should have been a great movie, with evident ambition, reduced to something you really don’t need to watch.