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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 18 June 2005
Stunning, imaginative visuals highlight this sci-fi thriller, an intricate story of multi-layered brainwashing that is actually better on the second and third viewing, because of its maze of plot twists that one can get lost in, and knowing the ending doesn't lessen the impact of the drama.
The brainwashing scenes are brilliant, where a group attends lectures on subjects like "processed cheese" and "shaving cream distribution", and in paranoid moments makes me wonder what might be really happening to our brains while watching the average news/entertainment + advertising fare on our televisions.
These scenes are a little like the 1962 "The Manchurian Candidate", only using futuristic technology.
Jeremy Northam is terrific as "Morgan Sullivan", whose reality gets distorted and personality split into several identities. His confusion and fear are believable, and he handles the few action sequences with aplomb. Lucy Liu is strong and beautiful as the mysterious Rita, whose coded telephone number is Job 13:17, "Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears".
Vincenzo Natali directed this award winning film with stylish flair, a sleek sophistication, and with excellent pacing and some heart-thumping tension. The cinematography by Derek Rogers is marvelous, with a rather stark look, and the score is atmospheric and lovely, by Michael Andrews.
Intriguing, well acted, and with fascinating imagery, this is more of a mental adventure than the typical "blow 'em up" action film, and deserves being seen more than once for full appreciation.
No graphic violence, no nudity, and only the occasional four-letter word make this film suitable for a large audience.
Total running time is 95 minutes.
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VINE VOICEon 6 July 2005
Wow what a joy to see a film that did not get hyped out of all proportion and yet is a real gem to watch. The film never pretends to be something that is going to be easy to watch from the word go but the amazing plot and the twists are incredible. The action is great and you never really know what is going to happen next. The film involves one average everyday software computer spy who gets heavier and heavier into stealing secrets from the opposing companies, Norton is perfect in the role as is Lucy Liu, just an all round marvellous film.
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on 24 June 2005
I watched this film on the recommendation that it was directed by the same guy who directed "Cube". Yet again he proved that without an enormous budget, or big stars, you can create a great film.
Jeremy Northam was an excellent choice as the lead role. He looks like your average joe and that's exactly how he plays it. It's a stroke a genius to do this as it draws the viewer (a real life average joe) right in and creates a sense of empathy for the main character.
The plot was excellent, incredibly refreshing, and the film had a cool feel - although some of the CGI was a bit naff.
This film is a rollercoaster ride and will keep your interest right up to the credits.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 January 2015
This is an intelligent and exhilarating SF film which immediately catapults us into the world of corporate espionage. Jeremy Northam is excellent as the mild mannered Morgan Sullivan who applies and succeeds in gaining a position at Digicorp, an advanced technology company. Digicorp assign him a new identity and he is sent to conventions throughout the USA to secretly record presentations. Just as he is beginning to enjoy his new identity Sullivan starts to experience recurring nightmares, and when he meets Lucy Liu's mysterious Rita the film really takes off as she introduces him to a rival company who also wish to hire his services. The dialogue and acting is marvellously restrained, and the cinematography and haunting music is pitched just right. This is a confident and assured piece of work which I highly recommend to watch, definitely more than once.
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on 27 March 2009
I cannot believe he is not a big hollywood hotshot! Vincenzo Natali brought us 'Cube' in 1997 (a film i would definately recommend) and watching this film, i can see him showing off more of his BRILLIANT directing ability. Morgan Sullivan (Northam) is a suburban guy with a miserable marriage and in an attempt to spice things up he signs up as a secret agent for technology giant, digicorp. Things then take a turn for the worse as he makes a discovery about his true purpose, switches sides, switches again, is given a new identity and meets the mysterious Rita (Liu).
This film is excellent and has a feel similar to that of 'The sixth day'. It blends thriller with sci-fi in a world where companies spy on eachother to find out secrets. Acting is top notch from everyone. (Fans of cube might recognise David Hewlett as Virgil Dunn.)
That said, Cypher is not a film for somebody who wants non-stop actin. Go watch 'The Matrix'. The film has quite a bit of story and character development and an ending that kinda suprises you! All special effects are handled proffesionaly and nothing looks out of place, making Cypher look like a high budget blockbuster which i dont think it was.
If you liked 'Cube' then you will probably enjoy more of Natali's work and i would say this is a pretty damn fine movie. It is probably worth getting the rubbish one disc edition if all else fails but really try and snap the two disc one up as it looks extremely cool and has special features such as a commentary track with this inventive and brilliant Canadian director.

The next Natali film will be 'Splice' coming sometime in 2009. Hope all goes well. I know it will.
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on 15 March 2004
superficially this film is a story about espionage and counterespionage. but the plot is hardly the reason one would see this film. it is rather an impressive exercise in style. every shot has an eerie contrived quality to it, from its use of colour--most scenes are nearly monochrome--to the unusual camera angles. the result is disorientating and lends an unreal, often paranoid feel to most scenes. the sound, too, supports the claustrophobic atmosphere. if colour is used at all, it, too, appears artificial and surreal. as the plots develops, the reason behind this style becomes apparent. the audience is as confused as the protagonist, not knowing what and whom to believe, engulfed in a nightmare from which there is little chance of escape. only later in the film, as the protagonist reappoaches "the real world", do the scenes look more naturalistic.
The two main actors work well in this film. especially lucy liu's poker face leaves the audience guessing as to which side she is on, yet there is always a hint that behind her controlled facade there is a depth of feeling, which is explained towards the very end of the film.
whatever one may think of the story line, this film is entirely unique in its style and worth watching, and probably more than once.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 17 September 2011
Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Northam) leads a boring life with a dominating wife. He seeks fun travel and adventure. After passing the test he is recruited as a company spy. Asked about his now persona as Jack Thursby he is given an open slate. He is having fun, being all he can be, and taking up new habits of drinking, smoking, golf, and possibly a cutie pie, Rita Foster (Lucy Liu). All he has to do is collect data from humdrum convention speeches.

He imagines himself being an army of one. Then the complexities and deceits start and he finds himself a pawn in a multilayered scheme/mystery. Will Rita introduce him to the man that may be his only way out or his demise?

This has lots of action. The back ground sound actually enhances the film instead of some films where the disjointed noise overwhelms the dialog. You may guess the ending and for sure you will know it the second time around but it is the journey that keeps your interest.

The Thirteenth Floor [Blu-ray]
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It's Totally Twisty Time in this excellent movie about full-contact industrial espionage in which dystopian American companies brain-wash, drug, fool and then pop their agents at will. The whole thing is wonderfully played and will keep you guessing for a long time.
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on 18 August 2013
The character of the main actor changes througout the film. It's very subtle and powerful, and gives testimony to Northrup's acting that he pulls this off so well. This is essential, due to the way the plot ends. He journeys from a seemingly inadequate male, unhappily married, and trying hard to change his, (and others) opinion of himself, to something (with Lucy liu's help) entirely different. The set and flow of events in the film, and the technique of the actors, (a directing masterpiece) give the movie an unworldly feel, somewhat in the style of Minority report, and it left me quite pleasantly disorientated. The deliberate change of consciousness pulled off by our hero has been done in MIB 2, but the methods and results are entirely different, both very effective for their genre. There are a number of unexpected events throughout the plot, and all in all it is a marvellous ride into the workings of consciousness, with a futuristic, slightly horrific slant. There is a generous dollop of threat, and real danger, which intensifies as the plot progresses. I found the outcome was unusual, and I couldn't see the resolution before hand, which I often can in a less intelligently planned film. Certainly worthy of a number of viewings, to get the plot neatly ironed out!
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on 6 February 2012
A cult movie, nuff said. The story unfolds gently and every part has a proper function of the whole. It's perhaps about how your life can turn into something else... and still be part of you. I liked the colour reminders of a film noir through modern perspectives (kind of a Minority Report set and feeling). The casting was strange yet workable, the music forgettable. But the more I watch it, the more I like it. A great indirect story about identity and modern society. Recommended!
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