Dark City (15)

Directed by Alex Proyas
Starring Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Ian Richardson

Alex Proyas main claim to fame is as director of The Crow, the one where Brandon Lee died on set. Like that film, this is an intensely visual film, that, at times, baffles and confuses but keeps your interest.
Rufus Sewell is John Murdoch, who wakes up in a bath with no memory of who he is, and with a lot of very odd things going on. It is always night time in the dark city, and at the stroke of the big clock, everyone goes to sleep while the city is re shaped around them. Of course, Murdoch is the only one who knows somwthing is wrong, and that there are funny little white faced men responsible. To further complicate matters, Murdoch may or may not be a serial killer. Helping or hindering him along the way are his wife(Connelly), careworn cop Bumstead(Hurt) and extremely wierd Dr Schreber(Sutherland), who is the man with the big needle.
For much of this film I was totally confused about who was who, what was happening and whether it was all grippingly complex or a pile of crap. There are parts of the film that worked brilliantly. The visual effects of the buildings in the city changing before out eyes was stunning, and the opening half hour or so were mind twistingly intriguing. However, those funny white faced men who included Ian Richardson(looking rather uncomfortable) and Richard O'Brien were just daft. And when Frank Pickle from The Vicar of Dibley appeared, it just got really daft. Kiefer Sutherland has become one of the biggest hams around. He and Charlie Sheen just about share the I-have-a-famous-dad-but-am-too-full-of-myself-and-lack-talent award. He is so way over the top here in a sort of Peter Lorre way, that it almost seems like a comedy. Hurt playes it melancholic, while Sewell carried his finrt big role quite well. A UK TV favourite since Middlemarch, Sewell has the brooding good looks, but also a hint of menace that makes him believable as the slightly unpredictable Murdoch.
Sadly, the ending is really silly, but this is an engrossing film for the most part. I think it might lose a bit on the small screen as the visuals are what make it. An interesting idea not completely successfully realized. 6/10

May 1998

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