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Never forget who you are. 

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Cypher

Hoping for a more exciting life than the one he currently inhabits, nerdy Morgan Sullivan (Northam) takes a job as an industrial spy at Digicorp, a global computer corporation. He is assigned to fly to conventions around America, recording the speeches that are made. But when Sullivan meets a mysterious woman (Liu) he begins to realise that his job is not what it first seemed. Not knowing who to trust, maybe not even himself, he descends into a dark underworld and struggles to maintain his own identity.

Cypher is the follow-up to Natali’s directorial debut, Cube, and any die-hard sci-fi or thriller fan is going to know that this can only mean one thing: this film is good. Essentially a psychological thriller, it holds questions likened to The Matrix: ‘Do you have an answer for everything?’, one character asks. ‘Yes’ is the cool and blunt reply.

Shot stylishly in bluish tones, we see the world around Northam is affectionless and uncomforting. He may enjoy his new job to begin with, but when questions can not be answered and the unexplainable remains just that, he must re-examine reality. And this is where Natali verges away from Cube. Cypher is aimed more at the viewer and their place in society. The audience become subjected to the questions asked by the characters and find it hard to distance themselves from the events on screen.

The film does owe a lot to The Matrix, but this is not a bad thing. In one scene involving a hypodermic needle, Liu commands Northam to ‘take the shot, if you want answers’. The acting is impressive, as even though famous stars take the lead roles, they do not seem typecast but approach the themes of the film head on. If you ever questioned reality, this film will either clarify your thoughts, or more likely, drive you a little further insane.

As the film does not fit under the category of mainstream cinema, the crew can be more adventurous and break away from the norm. Where the film could’ve ended up as a small budget thriller with a disappointing ending, this neo-noir will leave you thinking long after you have left the cinema.

Phil Lurie

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Spring Term (35mm)