Friday, March 28, 2014

Extracted (Movie Review)

Extracted is about a man with a dream.  Tom's dream is to be able to see other peoples’ memories.  He has an idea for a machine that would literally let him get inside someone’s head.  He could walk around inside someone’s memory and even interact with them, which would be great for things like therapy.  The one thing holding him back is funding.  He doesn’t like the idea of an anonymous donor, but no one else seems interested in his technology.  Tom takes the money and does his best.

When the donor wants a demonstration before Tom can create a full prototype, Tom objects.  He’s not ready.  The alternative is losing his funding, so Tom agrees and meets the mystery donor, who happens to be an official with the Department of Corrections.  The idea is simple:  They can use the machine to tell if someone is actually guilty or innocent by seeing how they remember events.

Tom’s not thrilled, but he’s already made his deal with the devil.  He agrees to go into the memories of a prisoner named Anthony.  When the time comes to leave, Tom finds that he can’t.  His body is comatose but his mind is living out Anthony’s memories.  Anthony goes back to jail and Tom is left no way to communicate with the outside world..

After a while, it gets pretty boring for Tom, but he does find a way to communicate with Anthony.  It’s not entirely reliable and Tom realizes that he’s at the mercy of his host, but at least it’s something.  They’re able to better work out what happened the night of Anthony’s alleged murder.  The question is whether or not it will matter.

I had held this one in my Netflix queue for a long time before watching it.  It was one of those movies that looked interesting, but I wasn’t sure how they’d get 98 minutes out of the premise.  It seems like the whole idea of going into someone’s head is unnecessary.  It could have been done just as easily with a monitor and a microphone.  Actually putting someone at risk like that was undoubtedly only done to have some sort of suspense.

This may be why the movie seemed to drag.  Someone probably got the basic idea, but much of the movie comes across filler.  We get to see Tom spending a lot of time in Anthony’s head, moping around.  In this case, I can at least see it being done for effect.  Tom had to spend a long time without any meaningful contact with anyone.  It didn’t take long to get to the point where I was like, “Ok!  I get it already!”

At least with other movies, you can marvel at the technology.  In The Thirteenth Floor, the technology was cool.  Here, much of it seemed unnecessary.  Tom is just a bystander in Anthony’s memory.  There’s also no big twist.  It’s not like Tom is really Anthony or something.  There’s no real metaphor or special message.  It’s more like a commentary on the nature of memory.  The movie just peters out.

I’m not sure I can recommend buying the film.  If you have Netflix and it’s still available streaming, you can try it.  I have to admit, though, that even streaming, I was only watching it to see how it ended and possibly get a review out of it.  I watched it with my brother; I felt bad dragging him through it, but he didn’t seem to mind that much.  I could see this having been an episode of a sci-fi TV series like The Outer Limits.  It’s a good story that just got dragged out too far.

No comments :