2/17/16

DARK CITY - REVIEW


From director Alex Proyas comes Dark City, a modern film noir detective flick with a difference.

While its story may develop in a similar way to other films in that genre, you've got a mysterious group of powerful, bald, vampire-like weirdos in there and a good bunch of bizarre twists which add a layer of surrealism to the whole thing.

Dark City stars Rufus Sewell as John Murdoch, a man suspected of killing several prostitutes who finds himself on the run after waking up in a hotel room he doesn't remember. In fact, his memory is pretty much all gone so it makes finding out the truth even more tricky. William Hurt is the detective tasked with the case, Jennifer Connelly is John's concerned wife and Kiefer Sutherland is a shady doctor who appears to know more than he claims. As a piece of neo-noir, Dark City is pretty fascinating as it, about halfway through, defies your expectations and goes in a direction you wouldn't expect. As the plot moves towards more of a sci-fi theme, the film should either lose you or win you over: some of the twists are pretty out there.

Dark City does something which no other film has attempted in quite the same way. Yes Blade Runner also juggles noir and sci-fi but here, there's a more malleable, over-the-top feel to the film even if some of the cast are playing their roles as earnestly as possible. While the sci-fi element felt fully integrated in Blade Runner's futuristic yet retro L.A., here it's very much a film of two halves which happen to overlap. Reconciling the evil bald dudes element with the murder mystery plot is something Dark City does its best to make work and yet, while its creative approach is to be applauded, it's utterly unconvincing. This leads us to a disappointingly messy third act which'll leave you wondering what the film would have been like with a different, perhaps more subtle science fiction twist.

That said, this is a slick-looking movie with a unique vibe, some cool special effects, a solid cast and some big ideas which may not all stick but which help make Dark City unique nonetheless. Definitely worth seeing at least once, just keep in mind that, by the time the final twist pops up, you will probably already have stopped taking it too seriously.

Fun cult oddity.

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