Science fiction and fantasy                                            


Directed by Phillip Roth

Darkdrive poster 
In mitigation, Darkdrive was made in 1997, back when VR was still relatively trendy. Ken Olandt plays Steve Falcon, a man who helped to create the Exile Chair. This is a machine that holds the body whilst uploading the mind to a virtual reality world known as the Matrix. Steve has turned to drink after the death of his wife, and he is none too happy when the head of the Zircon Corporation turns up at his house asking him to come back and fix the malfunctioning gizmo.

It seems that the machine has developed a mind of its own, and is frying some people who get too close. Instead of doing the sensible thing and shutting it down, Steve has to strap in and enter the virtual world to get to the bottom of things.

That's only the first nonsensical part of the plot. Next he has to track down a terrorist known as the Shadow Man who has broken into the Matrix. Steve goes in with a disc, which R.J. Tilda (Claire Stansfield) and her goons are intent on taking from him at every turn. Why he would need to carry a visible, tangible disc in a virtual world is anyone's guess.

The low budget of this movie is apparent at every turn. So much could be made of the virtual reality world, but Darkdrive's take on it is some dingy bars and dirty alleys in a part of a city that's permanently on emergency power. Everything is underlit, and the dreary background music provides a relentless atmosphere of oppressive boredom and despair. For a film that's rated 18 mainly for the violence, it is surprisingly unexciting. Jackie Chan it isn't.

The acting is also pretty dire. The parts are all very stereotypical, so the actors don't have much to get their teeth into. But they attack their roles with a woodenness that would embarrass a wardrobe.

After watching this movie you're left with several fundamental questions. What the heck was that all about, and why did I bother watching that, are two likely ones. Another will be, can I get my money back? Unlike The Matrix, this film doesn't question the nature of reality or touch on religion or philosophy. The thin plot isn't even an excuse for some fancy moves and special effects. The effects that do feature are nothing special, even for '96. It's cheesy, predictable, and it takes itself overly seriously. The whole idea of another dimension suggests that things will be different in one of them, but reality and fantasy in Darkdrive are pretty similar. VR opens up many possibilities, but this film fails to explore any of them. Give it a miss.

Film Details

Decade: 1990s

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 18

If you like this, try:

Otherland : City of Golden Shadow cover    

Otherland : City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams
The first episode in the Otherland series introduces a world of immersive virtual reality.

0 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson


johnny pom     19th October, 2004 21:52pm

not seen it, but even the name sounds crap.

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