Thursday, February 25, 2016

NARCOPOLIS (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Duration: 96 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Justin Trefgarne
Cast: Elodie Yung, Harry Lloyd, James Callis, Jonathan Pryce, Louis Trefgarne, Molly Gaisford, Adam Sims, Cosima Shaw, Elliot Cowan, Nicky Henson, Robert Bathurst, Rufus Wright
Synopsis: In 2024, the manufacture and consumption of drugs has been legalized. Drecks are an elite unit created by an over-stretched police force to keep the black market dealers off the streets and the licensed drug companies rich. When dreck and former addict Frank Grieves is called to investigate an unidentifiable corpse, he makes a connection to the biggest and most powerful drug producer of them all: The Ambro Company. But Ambro has friends in high places and as his corrupt superiors turn on him, Grieves finds himself cut loose by the law and separated from the people he loves. The only way to clear his name is to find the identity of the dead body and its connection to Ambro. But not even Grieves is ready for what the future has in store.

In this dystopian sci-fi thriller we have a future-cop, which are known as Drecks, tehy work in the service of the all-powerful Ambro company, one of a handful of billion-dollar companies  The Drecks keep the illegal street drugs out of the hands of consumers, and keep them buying the legal stuff. When called to the scene of a possible suicide Dreck Frank Grieves uncovers some oddities about the fresh corpse, for one it is not identifiable, nor are the drugs in the body, which is strange. Not only are all drugs legal in this version of the future but every human has been tagged and easily identifiable by a simple scan using some future-tech gizmo. 

Grieves is told the case is closed and does not warrant any further investigation by his superiors, which raises his hackles. Unable to just cannot let go of it he re visits the site of the crime where he comes across a young woman named Eve (Elodie Yung) who says she has come from the future. Not sure he believes her Grieves none the less smells something rotten and hides her away from his superiors, who more and more seem to be working for the Ambro company, which is headed by the sinister Todd Ambro (James Callis), whose legal-drugs are mass marketed  ad nauseum throughout the film. 

Grieves enlists the help of an underground tech-guru named Yuri (Jonathan Pryce) who examines Eva's wrist-watch, what he finds further complicates Grieves investigation into the suicide, causing the other Dreck's to turn against him. at the same time his already unstable home-life begins to further crumble around him, with his wife and young son losing faith in him as he continues to spiral down the rabbit hole of conspiracy and time travel.

The movie reaches far and does a lot on a small budget, the world building is more hinted at than seen onscreen, they're reaching for Blade Runner but we're only getting Looper or 12 Monkeys, which is fine, I love both those movies, and I think they both handled time-travel exceptionally well, and I think Narcopolis does well for itself within the constraints of what they could fund. The keep the sci-fi rooted in the realm of the near-future, there's not an overwhelming amount of advanced tech, which is advanced but not too advanced for its own good. 

What drives the film is the performance of Elliot Cowan in the role of Grieves, a former junkie with some issues, and that of his young son (Louis Trefgarne) and his suffering estranged wife (Molly Gaisford). After that the hard-boiled police procedural element is strong, I think the weakest part of the film is that the Ambro conspiracy part of it begins to fizzle and the time-travel elements are under sorely developed. The movie has style to spare though, a very attractively shot movie that both delivers some sci-fi gloss and dystopian grit, it makes for a nice combination. 

Special Features: 

- Audio Commentary by writer/Director Justin Trefgarne
- Behind-the-Scenes (17 Mins) HD 
- Deleted scene (4 Mins) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) 

I didn't love this one, I enjoyed it though, a dystopian science-fiction thriller with some true grit and strong performances, and coming from a first-time director, this is pretty grand.  Not exactly sure what more I wanted from it, but there was something missing. I think needed it to explore the legalization of drugs more within the context of the movie, and for the time-travel part of it to mean more to story. Not to put anyone off the movie, this is worth a watch and then some, I just feel it could have been something more special, as it is it's a good watch. 3/5