First off: Happy Birthday, Alec. As for the rest of you- My name is Bob, and I'm your guest reviewer for: Narcosys. Directed and produced by Mark Bakaitis. Screenplay by Adam Breasley. Starring Mia Kate Russell, Todd James, Matt Trihey, and Renee Brennan. Sanity assurance by Cthulhu.
I want to make one thing absolutely clear before I start this review. I love deep, psychological writing that is difficult to fully understand. My favorite game series? Xenosaga. By far. Other people hated the super-long cut scenes, the slow-moving and dense plot, the huge variety of references to virtually every religion or mythology out there, etc, etc, etc...I loved all of it. So if anyone would adore a movie where characters constantly speak in long, philosophical diatribes that you can barely comprehend and reference dozens of things which have no real relation to each other & in which virtually nothing exciting happens for long, long stretches of film...it is pretty likely to be me. The trouble is, for me to like it, the plot and the dialogue and all...they kind of have to actually make sense when you do think about it. There has to be a hidden meaning. In this film? Not so much. From Netflix's description, this is about a brave ground of counterculture cyberpunk heroes trying to stop the "heartless IT Corporation" from ruling the world. My own feeling is that is more about a confused group of drug-addled, mind-numbingly boring thieves/murderers who spend most of their time saying things that sound like they might be deep and interesting until you actually listen to what they're saying, at which point you realize that the writers very likely took enough crack to enter a near-death hallucinatory state and then were whapped upside the head by a very large sledgehammer with a rocket tied to the back of it, just because.
I know some of you probably read Alec's site here because you enjoy bad movies and want to find new films to make fun of. If that's what you're looking at this review for, I'm going to save you some time: Narcosys is not a film you should look up. Avoid it like the plague. If, on the other hand, you want to see someone rage at it, well, by all means, read on.
The movie opens with a shot of a cityscape with some...okay, decent CG flying cars. And then, we get a female computer voice giving us a report on "the recommendation of this committee" to kill any subversives by spreading a virus through a drug that is going to be spread through the streets, or is already on the streets, or something like that. I guess the general idea is that people who hate this overwhelmingly powerful future corporation all use large amounts of drugs...I kind of question how they've become a large enough force to really worry about in that case, but it's your plot, I'll go along with it. Oh, and they declare their willingness to kill any criminals without a trial, just to drive home the "we are evil" point. I would be remiss in not noting the incredibly strange decision to place an image of a big eyeball--moving around and staring at various things--on the side of a building wall. Just kind of projected up there. I get the implication: "big brother is watching you"--or sister, maybe, since that looks kind of feminine--but it still begs the question...why would anyone do that? Oh, and that senseless eye image? It comes up in a lot of places--like on a TV screen, just blinking over and over. Then again, I frequently got the feeling that these guys just kind of walked around Tokyo or Beijing or somewhere and shot actual footage of the city for some of their stuff, and then added a few CG things later, so maybe there really is a giant projected eyeball somewhere in Japan or China or wherever this is supposed to be.
So we get a bizarre character intro where the computer system from before tells us about our heroes. "Matrix Monopoly" is scheduled to be executed, but gets sent to go undercover in a gang to bring them down in exchange for not getting dead. "Sin Tax" is the "charismatic" leader of the gang, and the other two are "Metro Confetti" and "Candybar Satelite." (Yes, Satelite, not Satellite.) Metro is a guy, Candybar is a girl, they're both druggies, and that is all the characterization you get. Oh, and by the way, you get to see CG images of these people while they are being introed. Naked. Full frontal. Fun. Every time you meet a character in this movie, they are introduced with a screen like this (though mercifully most of them show a face or skeleton instead of the full frontal), complete with a very annoying "bwoop, bwoop" sound going on for what seems like an eternity while the computer reads off their stupid name. Sin, Metro, Candybar, and Matrix go in to steal something, I think, at a parking garage. Sin gives us the first of many nonsensical lines: "It's white rabbit season." He will be your main supplier for the duration. They meet with a drug trafficker named "Orbit America." You know, the great thing is I don't really have to make fun of this. I can just type the names and really, that does it for me. By the way, this isn't a comedy. Or a porno. I think. We get our first witty exchange.
Orbit: "Get ready to meet your maker tonight."
Someone: "Who's the cartoon?"
Someone: "Go home, man."
Orbit: "How do you change a cartoon light bulb?"
Matrix: "You tell me, Orbit, you're the gadget freak."
*Nothing in this scene gives a clue as to why they start talking about cartoons*
Now we wander for a little while with a druggie watching the eye images. His name is "Zerox Drone." Yeah. He does nothing of any consequence. Back to the robbery, and the team runs down empty hallways with exciting music playing that tells us this is action, except it isn't because nothing is happening. There's no one but them there, so it isn't much of a chase scene. They get to their car, and escape from no one, but then (after another pointless Zerox Drone shot) they get stopped by a security guard (I guess) in a very strange white suit that looks like one of those suits they wear while working on computer chips.
Guard: (with computer voice) "Management has the right to refuse entry."
Sin: (with gun) "And refuse has the right entry for management." (shoots guard, who falls sparking with electricity.)
Metro: "Prices slashed--another satisfied customer."
Sin: "Point of sale. Transaction terminal." (Shoots him again.)
Matrix: "Don't call us. We'll kill you."
Matrix gives us a little much-needed context. So Matrix's plan, here, is to very obviously record these psychotic killers with a video camera to get evidence against them, claiming she wants it for her own enjoyment. Actually, that's not the worst plan I've ever heard--we've all seen the videos criminals make of themselves and put out on the internet because they are stupid, I imagine. The gang is raiding "the company's" chemical refineries to get at untainted drugs...I think. Back to Zerox Drone! He plays around with an out-of-order TV and makes it display some stupid CG footage, then takes the Out of Order sign and puts it on himself in a brilliant statement of nothing. "Sermon Newsflash" is apparently to be killed because he doesn't have money, I guess. He's a druggie street preacher (classy, guys) who gives us more great lines: "Don't wait for a sign, read what the sign says!"
*Anyway, Zerox and Sermon continue to be boring for an excruciatingly long time. Matrix mercifully gives us something remotely interesting with more voiceover, explaining that the problems started when the IT Company...I still can't believe that is the name they went with...at some point decided it would be brilliant to pay people with drugs. Yes...I cannot imagine how that would backfire. Meanwhile, Zerox takes drugs at an abandoned church and is infected, as the annoying bwoop bwoop screen tells us. Sermon comes over to him and urinates on the step he's lying on. Classy. Hurray, back to Sin's gang! They open the case they stole, and the movie takes the bizarre step of showing us what they got by means of a "Level Complete" screen listing the items in the case while victory music plays. Cute...but then Sin talks about what they got anyway. Pointless.
Matrix and Candy kill Sermon (wouldn't it be good for Matrix to tape the killing instead of participating in it? Oh, whatever). Zerox goes to work. Thrilling. He's a factory worker, apparently. We get some long shots of his job, which involves computer modeling...kind of odd that he's doing that right next to the heavy machinery that operates very loudly, but whatever. He starts having a drug trip, which is no more interesting than anything else in the movie to this point, and then apparently has to leave because some kind of accident happened during his blackout. He goes out and then is told to take off his clothes. And he does. Full frontal male nudity again. This hurts. And in what I guess is supposed to be part of his drug trip, an S&M Angel has sex with him. Not that I watched this scene much anyway, but boy did she look bored. He gets electrocuted and his head gets drilled or something. And then he's dragged off by two guys and we're told that he's "impregnated." Ew.
After an annoying flashy-light sequence, Zerox ends up at the old church he was sleeping at before. Sin shows up...Sermon had mentioned he had more drugs at the church, so I guess that's why, though that doesn't really match up with their "steal directly from the company so it isn't tainted" M.O., but whatever. And now, it truly begins. Ladies and gentlemen, Sin Tax:
"Yea, though I walk through Silicon Valley, every cloud has an alominium lining." (That’s how he says it…I think maybe he meant aluminum?)
Metro captures Zerox, so they've got a hostage. No idea why, really. Matrix figures out that Zerox is infected...no idea how, really, but she says it's obvious, so it must be. We get a very, very stupid sequence of the nude 3d models of Matrix and Candy rotating interspersed with shots of them posing with their silly guns, because Metro sees life as a music video...don't you remember all those music videos that featured a couple shots of chicks with guns alternating with CG models of their naked bodies just rotating around? Pointless.
Sin: "Let us pray. I was once, Lord, lost, but I found my sheep. I shall not want the Lord as my savior. I lay the Lord down to sleep, any face he cares to show me. My witnesses help me so God is my lie. Till the death part of us says I will take thee, awfully unwedded life. Salvation rides to town on an ass. Love your enema. Turn the other cheek. The city dies like a constipated junkie. Welcome to devoid. Merge ahead. I got so crazy the world couldn't beat me. So join it. I'm fucking with your head, but I'm a generous lover (mother?). Sinning is everything. Sinner takes all. Lucifer's a white lie hidden in the light. God keeps himself in the dark. OD on the silver screen. One play a revolutionist (?). Are you now, or have you ever been...take him to the car."
*I'd be offended, if all that stuff he just said made any sense at all*
Some possible mistakes aside due to the guy's strong accent and habit of speaking extremely quickly...yeah, he just kind of spews all that out like a Shakespeare monologue. They then leave, with Sin waving a flare around and leaving it behind when he leaves...I guess it's implied that he's going to burn the church down, but it clearly was going out when the screen fades out. More boring driving. For a while. The only time Matrix ever seems to film anything is when they aren't committing any crimes. Is it really necessary to show them driving for so long? Do I have to see the entire trip there? More brilliant dialogue, after they knock Zerox out for no reason:
Matrix: "Wake up, kid. Call waiting! The public phone but no one's home...and the machines are answering."
Metro: "Please leave a message."
Candy: "And we'll get back to you."
Matrix: "As soon as the human is possible. (?)"
Sin seems to discover that something is wrong with the drugs they took earlier. "Hold on, you two. On hold. Stop feeding her telephone lines, or the next operation will be you."
Metro: "(something)...at the sound of the tone, our time might be up."
Candy: "I hope we're not disconnected."
Sin, I guess, thinks that Matrix is betraying him. She is, of course, but it's never clear why he thinks this. "You wanna make a new world order?"
Metro: "You want fries with that?"
They go off for a little bit talking about Zerox, as Sin stops threatening Matrix for no reason, and Sin inexplicably (I guess I don't need to mention that anymore, do I?) says, "If Jesus would stop hanging up on the cross, maybe the call would get through." These guys know how to drive a metaphor into the ground and then detonate a nuke on top of it, don't they. Anyway, Sin goes to commit the next robbery on his own.
Matrix: "Guilty or not guilty?"
Candy: "Try insane."
Matrix: "I'd have him committed."
Candy: "He's scared of commitment."
Matrix: "Typical male."
Candy: "Well, sometimes the mail doesn't get through."
*Why am I watching this?*
The movie continues to interrupt with computerized announcements all the time, for everything from Zerox getting knocked out to Sin entering the building for the robbery. All of these announcements are accompanied by loud, annoying static noises and a strange high-pitched hum. Sin cleverly breaks into the building by walking openly in with a gun out and taking the elevator, and steals stuff from the scientist with Joker lips. By shooting him. Openly. Yes...I see why they needed Matrix to get footage of this guy driving his car around so they could arrest him. He's a master criminal. We get another Level Complete screen, of course. Matrix finally films them doing something illegal...taking drugs. Oh, wait. IT Co. pays in drugs. So that's not illegal. Whoops.
Matrix: "Exceeding the speed limit?"
Sin: "Always exceed the recommended dosage. The path of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."
Sin: "No enjoyment in moderation."
Matrix: "Moderation's a virtue."
Sin: (offering drugs) "Take some advice."
Matrix: "Vicious circle."
Matrix: "You backed me into a corner."
Sin: "Take an easy out. Just say yes."
Matrix: "Just say fuck off."
Sin: "No problems that can't be fixed."
Matrix: "Oh, you're fixing problems now?"
Sin: "No problems, only solutions. Solutions of crystal, solutions of meth."
Matrix: "Method acting."
Sin: "Actions speak louder than words."
Sin starts handing out the drugs and then they wind up a clock and they dance on the wind for a while singing "Dancing in the Rain" and then the rain turns to sparrows and His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches Veoh. Sorry, I went a little insane for a second. I'm better now.
So they're having problems--oh, sorry, I just had to watch Metro vomit. Ew. So, anyway, they're having problems finding good drugs to sell, so Matrix has to give Orbit a call. Yeah, I guess they're...talking again or something. I don't know. I'm trying to skim now, but there's just so much stupid in this movie. I'm only halfway through. I can't believe I'm only halfway through. Things I think about...this guy Sin is a criminal on the run from "IT Co." Why is he using an IT Co. navigation system in his car? Doesn't that strike you as a little...dangerous? More long, long travel footage with shots of flying cars from time to time. I should point out that the main characters drive an old muscle car. Flying cars? Entirely pointless. So Orbit gives them a name...I think...of someone they can talk to or rob from or something. "Kiono Bikini." You know, I'd insult that name, but it isn't "Candybar Satelite," so we're good. Metro suggests robbing Kiono, but Orbit warns them...in giant monologue form...that it's too dangerous because he's got private security forces, so they should buy from him. Yay. So there's a bizarre and pointless sequence with some skateboarders performing a few jumps and they meet one of the boarders--Pixel--who they leave Zerox with. The sequence continues to be pointless, so let's move on.
So Sin and the gang go to Club Quarantine. It's an S&M club. Classy. To rob the place, so they can pay Kiono, they kill pretty much everyone there...with almost no one making any move to defend themselves at all...or run...even during long pauses in the shooting. Sin: "If you want something done right wing, do it yourself." Sigh. They go off on another discussion they clearly thought was intelligent, this time talking about Matrix's filming as a snuff film and then transitioning to talk about theaters, with Sin finally speaking out against parental guidance. It makes even less sense than usual and I'd transcribe it, but it's too long and I can't make sense of half of what they're saying...plus I want to get done with this today. At least Matrix finally got some shots of them killing people.
Oh, and just to drive home the fact that there is no need for Matrix to be doing what she's doing...one of the few living patrons notes that Sin and the gang must be nuts, because there's cameras everywhere in the club. The movie is pointing out its own plotholes. I wish I could say it recognized it and was going high-concept, but...I can't. Sin kills him, of course. I should also note--I know I haven't commented much on the acting, and that's because honestly...the actors aren't doing the worst job I've ever seen. They're not good, but they aren't that bad either. Except during the "witty exchanges," where they make it very clear that they think they're being extremely insightful and witty by overemphasizing all the puns and such. Matrix, though, doesn't seem to be able to decide if she's bothered by what Sin's doing or not...I can't tell if she's trying to look conflicted or just forgetting to display emotion sometimes.
Looking up at security cameras, Sin: "Would you mind filling out this surveillance? Fuck this Star Wars shit. Who does he think he is?"
Metro (stopping Matrix from shooting the camera): "Disarm and Han Solo. That's biting off more than we can Chewbacca."
So they go to Kiono, and buy some drugs. Kiono makes no sense, either. About drugs: "If this were the body of Christ you'd be baptized and born again before be bop a bodoo wop up bam boo." Yes, I'm pretty sure that he just goes off into singing scat or something in the middle of his line. We spend an absurd amount of time viewing signs of anime girls- the same ones, over and over. So, they go to a love hotel, and Candy and Sin pair up, but Sin won't sleep with her & instead talks about the evils of marriage and such...while Metro and Matrix have sex to loud music. Sin quote of the scene: "Time refuses to be killed despite twice daily punching the clock." I should again mention that this is not a porno- it just has a couple long and very disgusting sex scenes in the midst of its ridiculous, extended stupidity. Sin runs off with the money and the drugs, and Metro, Candy, and Matrix go after him. The law comes after them in their stupid flying airship, and scans them. But uh-oh--Sin was watching the IT Corp. systems...somehow...and sees that Matrix is an undercover operative thanks to the scan! Despite having betrayed his gang and run off, he decides he has to kill Matrix!
First, Sin rescues the gang from the cops by pulling out the largest gun in the world (after the flying airship departs for reasons unknown). The cops surrender, get tied up and put in the car...which Sin blows up with his giant gun (which shoots a disappointingly small laser, as is par for the course with giant guns in movies). They pointlessly-pose for a while...and go to McDonalds. Yes, really. And Sin hates the burger and tosses it down, which makes me think McDonalds probably wouldn't be happy about their inclusion in this film. Sin takes them to another club--oh, and they retrieved Zerox at some point, remember him? I almost didn't. Nice of them to show that...we get long sequences of the car just driving, but they can't even bother to show the gang getting their hostage back? This club has a guy standing on the roof with a flamethrower, which makes it the most awesome club ever. Sin threatens Matrix, and the group has another nonsensical discussion about the Wizard of Oz and Saturday Night Fever. The club sequence here is notable for one major reason: it looks like they just walked into a club and walked around filming! You can catch people in the scene giving them very odd looks, like "why are you dressed so strangely?" Plus, no one in the club is dressed in the crazy future garb they've got- everyone is dressed in t-shirts and slacks/jeans. It utterly spoils any feeling of reality the movie had left and I am absolutely astonished they made the decision to do this.
By the way, nothing really happens in the club for a while...Metro and Candy dance, Matrix starts to run away, Sin starts to chase her, and they let Zerox go because...um? Sin catches Matrix, finally, and starts punching the camera lens in some of the most obvious fake punches I've ever seen. And then there's a great shot of him carrying her unconscious body out of the building...while the club's patrons kind of look on like, "What are these crazily-dressed people doing? Should I maybe call the cops?"
Zerox wanders around, and finally ends up in the bathroom, where the virus finally takes hold. Metro and Candy figure out that Sin and Matrix are missing and go after them. Matrix escapes Sin (while he's taking his shirt off for no other reason than to reveal his creepy skull cross tattoo) and runs away, taking off her jacket for no reason other than to give him a clear path to follow. After an enormously long chase scene (interspersed with scenes of Zerox vomiting) in which Sin walks slowly, Matrix runs fast, and yet Sin is able to keep up with her (probably because she never takes any of the many side paths available to her, but just keeps going in a straight line), Sin rapes Matrix, kills Metro and Candy for no other reason than that they see him doing it. Then he holds a gun to Matrix's head and she pulls the trigger for him. And he walks away. Oh, and Zerox has a baby robot blow out of his chest- don't worry, he's fine. He just gets an injection from two weird doctor people dressed in those clean suits and wanders out of the club covered in blood, but unhurt while the real patrons consider calling the cops again...and that's it. Were you expecting an ending? Nope.
This movie is absolutely terrible. Meaningless and completely nonsensical dialogue is interwoven with annoying and pointless "computer screen" interruptions at every turn. The movie tries to portray an image of a futuristic world, but the best it can ever do is put a few "eye" projections up and have a few *okay* CG flying cars. Even that it gives up on that by the end! The plot makes no sense,- still managing to have recognizable plot-holes- the acting is bad and none of the characters are in any way likable or sympathetic. The movie tries, at every turn, to be deep and philosophical and make strong statements about things, but nothing the characters say ever makes sense. The pacing is all over the place, spending enormous amounts of time seeing unnecessary stuff like their car rides or shots of the obviously modern city...& then skipping important moments like the gang getting Zerox back from the skaters. 'Important' being a relative term, mind you. The ending- what there is of one- is basically just Sin killing everyone and getting away. The summary that Netflix provided says that it about a brave gang of cyberpunks facing off against a heartless corporation. Wrong! This is a movie about a bunch of morally-bankrupt idiots that rob the heartless corporation and kill a bunch of other morally-bankrupt people along the way, until one of them decides to kill everyone- even though he only has a reason to kill one of them. There's no face-off, conflict, plot, action or even a real ending!
Fun fact: According to IMDB, this won "Best Film" at the 2000 Melbourne Underground Film Festival. I can only assume that the competition was a film of a dog turd sitting on a table for 8 hours...or that Mark Bakaitis was on the voting committee. Another winner of multiple awards was "Masked Avenger Versus Ultra-Villain in the Lair of the Naked Bikini." I suspect this is not exactly a legitimate film festival even by Indie standards.
If you stuck with me to the end here, bravo. But take my advice. Never, ever watch this movie. Even if you like stupid stuff like this...never, ever watch this movie. It is astonishingly-horrible and you will feel dumber just for having seen it. I've seen it twice.
Next up, I (the real guy) returns with a look at a Turkish knock-off of a sci-fi classic. Pointless comedy abounds, good friends! Stay tuned...