Review: The Anomaly (EIFF)

EIFFTheAnomaly Screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

Directed by Noel Clarke

Starring Noel Clarke, Ian Somerhalder, Alexis Knapp, Luke Hemsworth, Brian Cox

A traumatised soldier wakes up for periods of 10 minutes, only to find time has passed and he’s in the middle of an on-going mysterious series of events…

Ambitious in its ideas, The Anomaly (a title revealed as completely meaningless after seeing the movie) is severely let down by its inept execution. Heavily focused on endless, repeated, fist fight scenes, the good sci-fi ideas and the intriguing plot are completely buried. Instead, the movie comes on like a fist to the face rather than an idea that tickles your brain.

Clarke stars and directs (as well as offering “additional material” to the screenplay by Simon Lewis), and he’s fine (if less than spectacular) in both roles, except when it comes to adopting a different accent to distinguish his two characters. A victim of mind manipulation, his traumatised soldier Ryan has been body snatched by Brian Cox’s disgraced scientist (in a brief role that is little more than a minor cameo). Occasionally, Ryan regains control of his own mind and body, and not only has to figure out what’s going on but also how he can stay in permanent control. Unfortunately, despite the fact that each time he regains control he only has ten minutes, Clarke’s seemingly braindead squaddie immediately picks a fight with whoever happens to be in the vicinity.

Desperate to be The Matrix meets Inception, this comes on more like a bad episode of The Outer Limits (the remake, not the original 1960s show). The fights are depicted in a mixture of slow-mo and fast-forward, and seem to go on forever. This might suit the drunken late-night rowdy crowd out for mindless entertainment it is seemingly aimed at, but the good ideas and dramatic plot at the heart of The Anomaly gets lost far too easily. The depictions of near-future London and New York are laughably cheap as well.

The Vampire Diaries and Lost actor Ian Somerhalder sleepwalks through his villain role, while actor-director Clarke seems desperate to lay claim to action hero status, so heavily is he the focus of the mind-numbing, headache inducing fight scenes. Alexis Knapp is ill-served in a female sidekick role that requires her to play her first, lengthy scene virtually nude. The Anomaly is a movie that thinks it is far cleverer than it actually is: a great shame, and a missed opportunity—and a neat Doctor Who visual in-joke (check out the photo of Ryan’s “wife”) doesn’t make up for the film’s multiple failings.

Verdict: Dumb, dumb, dumb! 3/10

Brian J. Robb

For further details visit Edinburgh International Film Festival

Released nationwide in the UK from 4 July

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