(director: Steven Soderbergh; screenwriter: David Koepp; cinematographer: Steven Soderbergh; editor: Steven Soderbergh; music:Cliff Martinez; cast: Devin Ratray (Kevin), Beka Sikharulidze (Yuri), Zoe Kravitz (Angela Childs), Byron Bowers (Terry Hughes), Rita Wilson (Natalie Chowdhury), Betsy Brantley (voice of Kimi), Derek DelGaudio (Bradley Hasling), Sarai Koo (Jessica Hasling), Jaime Camil (Antonio Rivas), Koya Harada (Bradley’s son), Emily Kuroda (Dr. Sarah Burns ), Charles Halford (Tall Thug), Robin Givens (Angela’s Mother), Alex Dobrenko (Darius), Jacob Vargas (Glasses Thug), Erika Christensen (Samantha Gerrity), India de Beauford (Sharon); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: R; producers; David Koepp, Michael Polaire; Warner Bros./HBO Max; 2022)
“A timely but minor suspense film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A low-budget nerve-tingling thriller shot during the pandemic and involving it in its plot. It’s a timely but minor suspense film slickly directed by Steven Soderbergh (“No Unsudden Move “/”Unsane”) and written by David Koepp. It in many ways reminds one of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” and Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out.”
The cautionary tale concerns the problems caused by technological overreach that’s set in post-COVID Seattle. It points out technology can take away our privacy rights and the perils to our mental health that might result by living in isolation for long periods.
The blue-haired paranoid Angela (Zoe Kravitz), who has been diagnosed as an agoraphobic, lives alone in a converted Seattle industrial loft. She’s a home-based tech worker for the up and coming Amygdala Corporation (amygdala is the part of our brain that processes fear), headed by Bradley Hasling (Derek DelGaudio, a neo-illusionist). She’s responsible for maintaining the high-level performance of a Siri-style virtual-assistant device called Kimi (voiced by Betsy Brantley, the ex-wife of Soderbergh). Angela also reviews problematic private interactions.
Looking out from her apartment’s windows she can’t help spotting a couple of annoying and nosy neighbors, such as the sex calling jerky Terry (Byron Bowers) and the binocular spy using creepy Kevin (Devin Ratray).
Angela stays home even though the lockdown mandate has been lifted. She’s on the phone regularly with her mom (Robin Givens) and her therapist (Emily Kuroda). They both encourage her to leave her house to keep sane.
One day while on the job she hears someone yelling in distress and it turns out to be a woman who was raped and killed. When she reports the incident to her company’s “organic interpolations” officer, Natalie Chowdhury (Rita Wilson), she will notify the FBI after having the frantic shut-in come to her office when she refuses to ignore the incident as the company wants her to. The corporate management is not pleased with any involvement in that incident and threaten her with reprisals.
Soon Angela finds herself in a life-threatening situation, as two goons go after her. But she cleverly turns to Kimi for a way out.
The film probes the good and bad results of surveillance, and how the latest generation deals better with machines than humans.
REVIEWED ON 2/17/2022 GRADE: B+