“Putting the delete in CTRL-ALT-DELETE.”
Computer security is part of my day-job, so I’m always amused by Hollywood’s efforts to depict it, particularly in thrillers. For the truth, which also creates the main problem with the entire “hacker” sub-genre, is that it may sound enthralling, but watching someone else type is among the most tedious things imaginable. While the effects may be very significant, the journey to get there is, frankly, dull as ditch-water. Any realistic cinematic depiction of cyberterrorism would be worse than watching paint dry. It would be more like listening to a description, of someone else playing a video-game, about watching paint dry. Here, the makers try to jazz things up by depicting cyberspace as a 3D network made up of data panels, sliding around each other like a virtual Rubik’s cube, with bad data showing red. Despite dropping buzzwords like “Stuxnet” to show the writers know what they’re talking about – or, at least, have read Wikipedia – that isn’t enough.
Yet it’s not a bad idea. The heroine is a former hacker (Peregrym) whose past was buried, to the extent she’s now a tech analyst for the government. Her name is Chloe Jocelyn – and that’s a mistake, for it immediately reminds us that there have been other federal geeks called Chloe, and this one isn’t fit to boot up the computer of that Chloe. We first see her impersonating the daughter of Russian technomobster Gustov Dobreff (Martinez) to lure him into entrapment, but that isn’t the end of the matter. For when he escapes custody, and starts his plan to bring down civilization as we know it, by hijacking a billion devices or so, he frames Chloe as revenge, by using code that was originally written in her black-hat days, thereby exposing her past. She’s blamed for the intrusions, arrested and knows that the only way to prove her innocence is to find the real culprit, with the help of former sidekick, Rabbit Rosen (Gurry). But Dobroff isn’t sitting back, and kidnaps Chloe’s mother to use as additional leverage against her.
This was originally a web series for Yahoo! and released in nine chunks of 10 minutes, which explains both the frantic pace and the strongly episodic nature. [I presume Symantec were a major sponsor, given the painfully obvious product-placement for Norton Anti-Virus, including an utterly superfluous trip to Symantec’s corporate HQ!] Despite my snark above, Chloe is actually fairly interesting, and Peregrym brings her to life well, but it’s a character which needs more development before dropping her into a scenario such as this. The story also had its share of “I’m so sure” moments: I strongly suspect federal custody is not as easy to escape as Chloe makes it seem, and I doubt they’d let a hacker keep her mobile phone either! While its brisk pace helps the flaws become too problematic in motion, and the supporting characters, particularly Rabbit, are nicely drawn, there’s nothing at all in the story which is new or unpredictable. The end result is only somewhat more fun than resetting your Gmail password.
Dir: Diego Velasco
Star: Missy Peregrym, Kick Gurry, Olivier Martinez, Manny Montana