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When is a SF movie not really a SF movie?
on 16 August 2015
Although John Woo’s film may have originated from a Philip K Dick short story this is really an action movie with a futuristic twist rather than a SF action movie. Had I realised this I may not have watched the movie in the first place, although the initial premise is intriguing. Ben Affleck plays Michael Jennings, a brilliant engineer who hires himself out to companies where he proceeds to reverse-engineer new computer breakthroughs where he dissembles seemingly impenetrable codes (thereby sidestepping copyright infringements) and recreates the technology, often with significant and profitable improvements. In order to protect his clients' intellectual property and himself, Jennings undertakes a memory wipe to remove knowledge of his engineering, resulting in a memory gap of several weeks and a large paycheck. However, a three-year contract with Aaron Eckhart’s Allcom technology company may be a memory wipe too far as the promised $92 million paycheck fails to materialise at the end of his contract and all he has is a manila envelope containing 19 mundane objects. What follows is a Hitchcockian romp with Bourne-esqe vehicle chases, martial-arts fight sequences with Mexican standoffs and explosions aplenty as Jennings attempts to decipher the purpose of the objects whilst being pursued by the FBI and Allcom’s henchmen. There are some good actors present here but the lamentable screenplay presents them as mere marionettes uttering inane dialogue and occasional lame humorous comments. Because of the SF input, the movie is not quite mindless nonsense and it is probably a film to watch if it is screened on television.