2047: Virtual Revolution

Guy-Roger Duvert is a well-known movie composer, having worked on the cute short A Fox Tale and the low budget sci-fi movie Eyeborgs; among others. It would appear that he has learned quite a bit from the productions of those films, as his new sci-fi movie, 2047: Virtual Revolution is an assured, confident feature-length debut.

When spelled out, the plot might sound derivative and cliched. Taking place in Neo-Paris during the year 2047, the majority of the population lives entirely in virtual settings, games of their choosing called Verses. These folks, collectively known as the ‘connected,’ are being systematically targeted by a terrorist group, the Necromancers, who believe that the populous is being unwittingly controlled through their online avatars by the government and big corporations. Thus the Necromancers have unleashed a virus into the gaming world, and with each attack, more and more people are killed. The latest attack sees 148 people die, so one of the largest Verse providers, Syntern Corp, hires special investigator Nash (Mike Dopud) to discover the main lair of the group so they can be taken out.

Replace the terrorist group with fully autonomous machines, and you have the broad strokes of The Matrix. However, such a comparison belittles both motion pictures and ignores their thematic nuances. The script, also by Duvert, leans hard into the ethical quandaries it poses, chief among them being, what is freedom? Nash is proficient at his job, and gets paid handsomely per body he piles up but is never confident he is doing the right thing. He asks himself if people being online all the time is okay. At the same time, he questions the Necromancers, as they are trying to force people out of a life they chose. His arc, which is very entrancing, is about him coming down on one side or the other.

“…who believe that the populous is being unwittingly controlled through their online avatars by the government and big corporations.”

Due to the thought and care put into the writing, 2047: Virtual Revolution does not settle for an easy answer, understanding that things are hardly ever black and white. Nash isn’t the only character with exceptional writing, as his hacker brother-in-law Morel (Maximilien Poullein) is also a very empathetic and compelling person. He doesn’t mind helping Nash do some less than savory stuff, but does have a boundary he can’t cross, and when this comes up in the story, everyone involved reacts in a manner that makes sense.

Dopud is a commanding screen presence, never hitting a false note with the conflicted character of Nash. When he tells his supervisor, Dina (Jane Badler), that he doesn’t know who to believe about which faction is in the right and which is in the wrong, it sounds like he does not have an answer to the ethical questions at the heart of the story. Dina comes across as cold-hearted at first, but the more she appears, the more the audience understands her, and her heart is revealed. Badler plays this perfectly, once again, allowing the back and forth questioning of the morals at play to come to the forefront of her subtle yet moving portrayal. Poullein, as the put-upon hacker, proves to be dynamic and intense, captivating the audience every time he appears. Kaya Blocksage plays Camylle, leader of the Necromancers, and her no-nonsense, level-headed delivery dovetails nicely with her arc and total conviction that she is doing the right thing, no matter the cost.

Of course, the most impressive writing and acting skills would all be for naught if the other aspects of the movie failed to live up to the script. Fortunately, Duvert’s direction is stylish and affecting. A roving camera swoops down from the night sky, past the full moon, showcasing the rain-soaked cityscape, as a group of people enters a spired building. This Walter Hill-esque moment is the freaking opening shot, whetting the viewer’s appetite for the visual splendor to come. An intense sequence intercuts between Nash’s avatar being beaten up by the terrorists in one of the Verses as henchmen break into the apartment to shoot his real-life body. The editing by Sylvain Franchet, especially in that scene, is very intense and finds a steady rhythm to maintain the momentum of non-stop action.

“…wears its influences on its sleeves, but it is able to take the familiar into unexpected and exciting new areas.”

Often times, when it comes to small budget sci-fi movies, the filmmakers will confine the action to a few rooms, with a tiny bit of the futuristic landscape being shown (i.e., The Colony). Or they will set the action in an uninhabited terrain, such as a jungle or desert, so the only things needed are alien makeup and one spaceship (i.e., The Objective). 2047: Virtual Revolution avoids this route and shows off the world in several key scenes. Nash attempts to break into the home of a supposed Necromancer, and he does so by scaling the side of the building. Floating billboards and neon lights are everywhere around it, creating a fully realized and believable environment. Production designer Irene Marinari and art designer Marc Azagury do owe a debt to Blade Runner, but this is more than straight homage, as the way technology has been infused into everyday life allows for some original looking tech, such as the firesticks, or the augmented weapons.

One issue crops up because of the level of detail to the world, as some of the computer-generated imagery looks quite blocky and isn’t always well integrated with the rest of the scenery. This only happens a handful of times and is easy to ignore given the ambitious nature of the world presented, the budget at hand, and the intensity of the plot.

2047: Virtual Revolution wears its influences on its sleeves, but it is able to take the familiar into unexpected and exciting new areas. Guy-Roger Duvert delivers an exciting and heady mix of action and philosophy that never feels pretentious. Combined with the stunning production design, clever script, and excellent acting, this is a genre movie everyone would do well to check out.

2047: Virtual Revolution (2018) Directed by Guy-Roger Duvert. Written by Guy-Roger Duvert. Starring Mike Dopud, Jane Badler, Maximilien Poullein, Kaya Blocksage, Jochen Hagele.

Grade: A

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