This is Noel Clarke’s third feature film as a director. Stepping away from the grimy teen violence themes that he is associated with, The Anomaly is much more of a genre piece. Venturing into directing science fiction, Clarke brings us a futuristic thriller about one man’s attempts to figure out his dramatic change in situation, but with only nine minutes until he loses consciousness and awakens in a new scenario, this is a man on a mission that is constantly transforming and renewing around him. The Anomaly is set for cinemas in early July and is currently playing at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Ryan awakens in a moving van, unaware of how he got there. Although The Anomaly falls short of really gripping its audience, it is reminiscent of many great science fiction films; from Total Recall to the Matrix. What is endearing about The Anomaly is how much it’s inspired by other, and sadly better, films. This is a movie made by those who love science fiction cinema and celebrates the genre’s greatest clichés and overused premises, however unintentionally.
The themes of paranoia, betrayal, memory and identity that The Anomaly encompasses are present in science fiction literature, such as the work of author Philip K. Dick. Dick’s cinematic adaptations include Minority Report, Total Recall and of course Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. By pitting itself against such strong competitors, The Anomaly can’t help but feel a little amateur but perhaps it’s just a strong starting point for a director who shows great enthusiasm and promise. The performances are a little jumbled and problematic. Clarke directs himself in the lead role which works relatively well but it is amongst the supporting performances where the cracks start to show. Ian Somerhalder is a pantomime like villain and Alexis Knapp brings very little to the project with a pouty, flat performance. Brian Cox is not used enough and providing him with more screen time would have benefited The Anomaly. All in all, this is a clumsy movie that doesn’t pack much punch. It suffers the same problems as Roeg’s Puffball with its weak story and limp delivery. Despite featuring the worst Scottish/Russian accent mash-up in cinema history, The Anomaly looks great and is an ambitious effort from a young and prospering director.
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