British sci-fi flick “The Anomaly” certainly lacks nothing when it comes to ambition. It even manages to find room for some intriguingly original ideas in amongst the mishmash of borrowings from “Source Code”, “The Matrix” and “Total Recall”.
When former soldier Ryan (Noel Clarke) regains consciousness in the back of a van with no recollection of how he got there, he manages to escape before blacking out again. When he reawakens, he finds himself in a completely different place with no memory of the intervening period of time. As he is pursued by a sinister scientist (Ian Somerhalder), the Russian mafia and an American Intelligence Agency it becomes clear that he is sharing his consciousness and he must find out what his other self is up to before it’s too late.
Visually, Producer/ Director/ Star Noel Clarke takes his cue from much of his past work, with the exterior shots closely mimicking “Star Trek Into Darkness” and the interior shots taking a leaf out of the “Doctor Who” playbook by using dim lighting and different coloured bulbs to cover for the economies it must have taken to deliver this film. Cities are treated to digital enhancements in this near-future techno-thriller and judging by the skyline, the south bank is in line to get the vast majority of the development in future London.
One thing that comes through loud and clear is that Noel Clarke really wanted to be in “The Matrix”. There are so many repetitive slow-mo fight scenes that they become tedious rather than exciting and the portrayal of Ryan as a humble everyman/ indestructible super soldier smacks of ego rather than dramatic licence. There’s plenty of gratuitous nudity and violence although blood and gore are kept to a minimum.
In fact, the whole film plays out like an ego trip or fantasy wish fulfilment for Clarke himself, with nearly every other actor relegated to supporting status at best. Even the mighty Brian Cox barely gets to say or do anything due to his odd but pivotal role. His dialogue is so limited (I can’t actually remember if he says anything at all) you have to wonder if he was contracted on a pay per word basis. Alexis Knapp brings a degree of glamour and sex appeal to Clarke’s lurid, led-drenched vision of the future but she still has to put up with a shallow and misogynistically underwritten role as a prostitute who sides with Ryan for no real reason. Even the poster boy for the film, Ian Somerhalder (“Lost”, “The Vampire Diaries”), has little to do but deliver exposition and give Clarke someone to talk to occasionally. While the principal cast acquits themselves reasonably well (Clarke struggles occasionally when portraying the multiple facets to his character’s personality), there are moments of truly atrocious acting, notably during the interrogation scenes when Ali Cook and Luke Hemsworth utterly fail to convince as ruthless agents or, indeed, as actual human beings.
“The Anomaly” is an adequate B-movie with delusions of grandeur, undermined by the ego of its star, director and producer. It’s not necessarily a bad movie, just a very ordinary one which lacks an identity of its own.