(15) 96min 0...

If the late. great science fiction writer Philip K Dick had rewritten North by Northwest. Cypher would be that film. Drug abuse made Dick a deeply paranoid man, and his fears came out in his writing. which dealt (mostly) with false and changing identities. Here. first time screenwriter Brian King has woven that notion into a story of industrial espionage set in a North America of the not too distant future that recalls the Alfred Hitchcock classic.

Out of work accountant Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Northam) is hired by a corporation known as Digicorp to spy on rival companies. Assuming a false identity, Sullivan attends a number of business conventions gathering trade secrets. Soon. however. he's approached by the enigmatic Rita (Lucy Liu), who informs him he‘s being brainwashed by Digicorp. Subsequently, Rita introduces the now befuddled Sullivan to an agent from Digicorp rival Sunways. and thereafter he assumes a second false identity to become a double agent.

These revelations are only the beginning of a series of increasingly bewildering and dangerous adventures for Sullivan. Written from Sullivan's point of view, King‘s script succeeds in staying one step ahead

in Jl ll [l‘\!.\‘l.'r.~. THE SAFETY OF BJECTS :5 '. coo

26 THE LIST -'-

'2]? climb


of the viewer. which makes Cypher a genuinely intriguing thriller. There‘s also much pleasure to be had from a number of references to North by Northwest. such as the use of the name Thursby: one of Sullivan‘s false identities and also the name of a character that doesn‘t exist in Hitchcock's film.

Director Vincenzo Natali keeps everything simple and minimal production design, photography, performances working in stark contrast to King's labyrinthine plotting. As with his debut, the cult science fiction thriller. Cube, Natali‘s


A cult classic in the making

storytelling is precision perfect: not a moment of screen time wasted. each set-piece smartly orchestrated (one of them riffs on North by Northwest's crop dusting sequence). From his leading actors Natali elicits terrific performances, Northam in particular giving life to his bland account of a man marginalised by life in the suburbs. while Liu is tantalising and teasing as the cloak and dagger femme. What we have with Cypher is a cult classic in the making. (Miles Fielder) .f,‘,,, v- i: ‘j,.:

,,, z ,t (12A)114min «u

CINEMA'NIAW (12A) 83mm 00..

U" ;) li‘m‘t. " ’l’l:‘.'

(ill‘Vl H‘:.’"‘. ..‘:

‘_".i:"‘ .‘i",“"" .z.' " "‘1" l’,