SEPTEMBER 3RD, 2021
MOVIE: ZONE 414
STARRING: GUY PEARCE, MATILDA ANNA INGRID LUTZ, TRAVIS FIMMEL
DIRECTED BY: ANDREW BAIRD
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
It always goes back to Blade Runner. No matter what science fiction movie you are trying to make, it’s Ridley Scott’s 1982 steampunk noir that always comes to mind, to the point where it’s practically in the bloodstream of all science fiction movies past and present. When you’re making art and you have that legendary film hovering over you, things become incredibly difficult, specifically because you probably shouldn’t try when the real thing exists. Zone 414 is a post apocalyptic universe, where humanoids exist, and because of their unpredictability, they have been cast off into an isolated zone known as Zone 414. The plot involves a private detective David Carmichael, played by Guy Pearce, who is hired by the inventor of the androids to go and search for his missing daughter in the forbidden zone. The premise is incredibly close to being Blade Runner-lite, with the final result being a mediocre slog, failing to capitalize on the potential it has in its hands. It was a movie in my zone and it made me want something better.
The positives in Zone 414 exist in a few spaces, which include director Andrew Baird making the best of the budget he has, using sets to create the broken down, indoor world that will exist in dystopian high rises. The first scene involves an interrogation of an android. We first meet Joseph Veidt (Jonathan Aris) asking the questions, he is the assistant head of the company that built the robots, and brings in Carmichael to test his ability to dispose of the android. He passes the test, so he is given the mission by the creator and leader of the all seeing company- Marlon Veidt- Travis Fimmel in crazy ridiculous prosthetic makeup and delivering the only performance with some life. He sets Carmichael on his way to find his daughter Melissa (Holly Demaine), but in his process of searching for her, connects with a femme fatale android named Jane (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz). She introduces him into the dark underbelly of androids and humans, where his search will threaten his own survival.
For the majority, the negatives about Zone 414 is that it doesn’t do enough, including a performance by Guy Pearce, which does the bare minimum of being a tough mysterious investigator. The Memento actor continues to be an enigma in cinema, he’s a genuinely great actor, and his performance here is fine, but we also know he’s capable of so much more. Writer Bryan Edward Hill has a grasp of what makes a cool sci-fi noir and director Andrew Baird has an eye for using neon lighting and the space. What can’t be fixed is how mundane and forgettable Zone 414 is. Even as the narrative moves along to the conclusion we see coming, it does so in a manner that fails to leave an impact on us. Zone 414 makes the ultimate sin with science fiction, which is that it’s forgotten the minute it ends.
It also hurts that Pearce is working on his own here. His co-star Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz nails the look, but fails to elevate the character above robotic. Although that is the point of her character, the costume design, and the narrative arc of her character is equally bland. There’s a lack of understanding, not enough conflict in her story, and her coldness makes her connection with Carmichael become a tepid connection. Her uninteresting journey makes it a cast of characters, outside of Fimmel, that nobody will ever remember. It’s equally sad that the minimal action sequences also fail to raise the blood pressure, making it more of a walk of action, when it needs to be a runner.
The interesting factor with Zone 414 is holding it up to other science fiction of recent years. A few weeks ago Reminiscence was a big budget swing, with a cool cast, and much more style. That too was a sadly disappointing film and the kind of movie you hate to see fail because it means less of these kinds of movies being made. Which goes back to science fiction needing a fresh approach, something audiences have never seen before, or can at least remember in the likes of Ex Machina, Under the Skin, and Annihilation. It’s just another Blade Runner rip off, failing to succeed at becoming a copy of the classic, and failing to leave an impact of any kind. When a movie takes a shot at the greatest, you can’t miss, and Zone 414 is a total whif.
ZONE 414 IS IN SELECT THEATERS AND AVAILABLE ON DEMAND THIS FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 3RD.
Written by: Leo Brady