A pulse-pounding cyber thriller starring Jeremy Northam (GOSFORD PARK, EMMA) and Lucy Liu (KILL BILL VOLUME 1, CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE), CYPHER is sure to entertain you! When computer expert Morgan Sullivan (Northa... more »m) joins a huge multinational company, he assumes a new identity and is sent undercover to investigate corporate espionage. Before long, he finds himself caught up in a vicious cycle of paranoia and mistrust. Then along comes Rita (Liu), a sexy and smart secret agent who informs Sullivan that he's being brainwashed and that she is the only one who can help him! Loaded with riveting twists and amazing special effects ... you're sure to applaud this fast-paced thriller!« less
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 06/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Stunning, imaginative visuals highlight this sci-fi thriller, an intricate story of multi-layered brainwashing that is actually better on the second and third viewing, because of its maze of plot twists that one can get lost in, and knowing the ending doesn't lessen the impact of the drama. The brainwashing scenes are brilliant, where a group attends lectures on subjects like "processed cheese" and "shaving cream distribution," and in paranoid moments makes me wonder what might be really happening to our brains while watching the average news/entertainment + advertising fare on our televisions. These scenes are a little like the 1962 "The Manchurian Candidate," only using futuristic technology.
Jeremy Northam is terrific as "Morgan Sullivan," whose reality gets distorted and personality split into several identities. His confusion and fear are believable, and he handles the few action sequences with aplomb. Lucy Liu is strong and beautiful as the mysterious Rita, whose coded telephone number is Job 13:17, "Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears." Vincenzo Natali directed this award winning 2002 film with stylish flair, a sleek sophistication, and with excellent pacing and some heart-thumping tension. The cinematography by Derek Rogers is marvelous, with a rather stark look, and the score is atmospheric and lovely, by Michael Andrews. Intriguing, well acted, and with fascinating imagery, this is more of a mental adventure than the typical "blow 'em up" action film, and deserves being seen more than once for full appreciation. No graphic violence, no nudity, and only the occasional four-letter word make this film suitable for a large audience. Total running time is 95 minutes. "
Stylish Thriller from the Director of 'Cube'
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 08/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Canadian director Vincenzo Natali made a cult film 'Cube' in 1997 -- claustrophobic thriller about six people trapped in cubic rooms. In his new film, Natali made another thriller in the vein of 'The Manchurian Candidate.' The difference from Sinatra's classic film is that 'Cypher' is more atmospheric, complicated, and politic-free. You need a lot of suspention of disbelief, but the film is stylish and uniquely entertaining.
The story begins with a job interview of one Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Northam) by a high-tech company Digicorp. Morgan, mild-mannered and quite ordinary man, is accepted after many exams which apparently are intended to test not so much his skills as his identity, for the company is afraid of his being a spy sent from its rivals.
Now Morgan starts his new freelance job, given another name "Jack Thursby." As Jack, Morgan is sent on a business trip to the cities, where a conference is held. His assignment is simple -- to tape secretly the presentations there, and transmit the content. His first mission is in shaving cream convention in Buffalo; next, process cheese in Omaha; and then, Boise....
YOU CAN SENSE that something is wrong with the world Morgan/Jack is in. Things are managed too well. Everyhing looks very artificial (see the designs of square buildings or town blocks). And one red-haired woman named 'Rita Foster' (Lucy Liu) always shows up whereever Morgan goes. What is her purpose?
Though the story gets confusing in the second half, 'Cypher' remains intriguing, refusing to give us an easy wayout from the maze until the last moment. Some may think the ending is slightly disappointing, but even they would admit the film's unpredictable storyline. As to the acting, Jeremy Northam and Lucy Liu are both very good. Northam seamlessly changes one personality to another while Liu shows her more quiet side unlike her hit movies 'Charle's Angels' or 'Kill Bill Vol. 1.'
Final words about the release of the film. The film was completed in 2002, and soon was released in January 2003 in Japan (where I watched this film in theater when it was renamed 'Company Man' -- better title, I guess), and much later the same year in UK, too. But for some reasons I don't know, Miramax refused to release it in America until 2005. 'Cypher' is another example of casualities from unaccountable decision, which I hope will not happen in the future. The film deserves a much better fate."
Beyond Sci-Fi and into the land of Hitchcock
J. Miller | 08/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not that great of a sci-fi fan so was a bit wary of Cypher, but it's really quite brilliant. More in the vein of Hitchcock in terms of wondering where reality starts and ends, and with a distinctly convoluted plot, Cypher keeps you engaged & keeps you guessing. Well acted, well written, and with a "Blade Runner" visual style. Don't miss it."
It's all in the ending
Michael Zadra | 06/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There's not a lot that can be said about Cypher without compromising the movie. I saw it on cable. The "info" says Cypher is about a man (Morgan Sullivan) confused about his identity when hired by rival firms to spy on each other. To that I can add that identity and the shifting realities that Sullivan experiences are central to Cypher. When you are unsure who you are, what your name is, who your wife is, where you live and who your friends are there is little left to anchor your sense of reality.
He is pushed and bullied by the industrial rivals but the movie never devolves into a cliched action-fest. The movie centers around his shifting identities and the deadly game of industrial espionage in which he finds himself entangled.
My wife and I enjoyed the movie. Cypher is intelligent and doesn't disappoint in the wrap up. I'm planning on grabbing this on DVD when Amazon gets around to stocking it."
Great film in the vein of Cube and Dark City.
S. Strutt | Pittsburgh, PA | 07/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great film. When I think sci-fi, I usually think of the popular space operas like Star Wars rather than great films like Dark Cty and Cube. Well, I'm happy to say that this film is in good company with those two sci-fi thrillers. Great film that kept me entertained through the end. I was such a fan after seeing this film for the first tiem that I bought the R2 version (I'm American) from amazon.co.uk rather than waiting for the R1 release. At the very least, give this movie a try. I doubt you will be disappointed."