Anon is the new Netflix movie that has a cinema release. It’s a science fiction made by Andrew Niccol – the man behind the iconic and cult movie that is Gattaca (1997). Anon stars Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried, both of whom have ‘acting chops’. The plot is high-concept, describing a future in which our identities are always ‘online’ and ‘tracked’, by video-feed, GPS and so on. Basically, any crime that occurs will always be fully documented, meaning that crime hardly happens anymore… until there’s a murder by someone who isn’t registered, someone who has managed to stay ‘off the grid’.
So the film has all the essential requirements to be amazing, right? Sadly, it’s absolutely awful. It’s so bad that if you’ve ever seen even a half-way decent scifi movie in your life, then you’ll want your money back if you’ve paid to see Anon at the cinema. Netflix have really dropped a clanger with this one. The Guardian gave the movie two stars in its recent review and I thought, ‘Well, the Guardian is always overly-harsh, so the film can’t be that bad.’ Turns out: the Guardian was actually being generous.
The film starts well enough – a grey filter/wash on the lens so that we are presented with a bleak and soulless future. No one has privacy. People live in a strange self-absorbed silence. The murder occurs and we are intrigued. Then we are told who the killer probably is and we kinda lose interest… because none of the characters are likeable in and of themselves, none of them has a moral dilemma and none of them seems to have a consistent rationale for what they get up to. The film utterly fails in its story-telling too: characters state things that they have no way of knowing, or give explanations that make no sense. The film breaks the rules of the world its built over and over. Come the end ‘reveal’, we are left utterly mystified – not in an ‘interesting’ way, but in a totally ‘well-that-was-random’ way. There is no reason for what the killer has been up to. The killer’s so-called explanation of what they did makes no sense. The film is full of inconsistencies, holes and unintended paradoxes.
And then we have the same old casual misogyny that we’ve seen for decades. It’s tired, tiring and tireless. Every single female character has to be buck naked in the movie, Amanda Seyfried very much included. Amanda is half Clive Owen’s age, and he really isn’t wearing well. I cringed when they had their obligatory sex scene. Add to that that Amanda is styled as a manga-female (entirely infantalised) and it feels like nothing short of pedophilia. We see naked females killed, and then we go over the film footage again for no apparent reason except to see their pert nipples and bouncing breasts one more time – it’s murder porn basically.
And the movie doesn’t stop at overt sexual exploitation either. Why stop there? Let’s go for racism too. The only person of colour in the movie is a maid (oppressed by her white, blonde employer) – the maid doesn’t get a single speaking line and only exists to show how ‘good’ the old white patriarch (Owen) is. Bless. Maybe one of the cops is a person of colour too (not sure), but he rapidly gets shot dead. And that’s that.
Anon is offensively bad. It’s also frustrating cos it wastes a perfectly decent premise. Shame on you Netflix. Stay out of our cinemas if this is the sort of fare you’re gonna offer. I give a score of 1 out of 10 (and maybe that’s too generous).