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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Anon: Minor Work from a Great Writer and Director

Andrew Niccol's Gattaca in 1997 remains one of the surprise all-time best science fiction movies, surprise because Gattaca was Niccol's first.  His follow-up, The Truman Show in 1998, was even more lionized by some, but I didn't like nearly as much as Gattaca, which was stunning in its mix Brave New World totalitarian life and the yearning for space travel.  I've seen some of Niccol's subsequent movies, but I honestly can't recall them.

Anon had all the right ingredients for another great movie - Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried in the cast, and a kind of Philip K. Dick Minority Report story, with a police force that can scan people's minds and therein nab criminals (not before but after the act), and hackers who can cut up and out those images.  Add to that a serial-killer hacker suspect (Seyfried) hunted by Owen (a detective who can mind scan), and they're sexually attracted to one another, and you could've had another great Niccol movie.

There were lots of good scenes, savvy dialogue, wonderful locales (my favorite: Sal's apartment on Wadsworth Terrace in Manhattan), and a pretty good twist at the end (which I won't tell you), but Anon nonetheless lacked, I don't know, a certain depth and profundity, even though that's exactly what it was trying to convey.   Anyone, especially police detectives, having access via your brain to what you see and do is a pretty traumatic and revolutionary development in human life, and for all the characters' remonstrating about that in the movie - or, in some cases, celebrating it - the ambience fell short of kicking you in the cosmic gut.   Probably there was a little too much emphasis on the murders and the police work.  Perhaps seeing scanning in other contexts a little more would have given Anon a more universal grounding.

As it was, Anon is a good film, worth watching, but a minor work from a great director and writer.  Hey, it's good enough that I'll definitely watch Niccol's next movie.


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