ANON – Withholding the Future

The citizens in ‘Anon’ have been implanted with a chip that records all their actions. Every byte of this intel is on a display platform, so crime-solving has been made easy for Detective Sal Frieland (Clive Owen). He merely sifts through the interface of suspects and victims to ascertain who has done what. This system works perfectly until a serial killer makes an appearance. The victim has not only had the recording of his death deleted from his memory, but it’s been replaced with the point of view of the murderer.

ANON movie

Earlier that same day, Frieland had passed a woman (Amanda Seyfried, known as ‘The Girl’) who had no visible interface, and he becomes convinced that this person must be the murderer. He sets out to track her down.

In a future world, where micro-surveillance rules unequivocally, it would be expected that people would change and, in particular, their vices. But Sal smokes, snorts and books hookers, which brings a jarring reality to a surreal backdrop. There are many similar hybrids and in the end it feels like we’re looking at 18th century French art while dining at McDonalds.

With personal information so readily available, the audience should get to know the characters intimately, but everyone remains a mystery to the end. The only attempt to humanize Sal is when he contacts his wife; think What’s App without the cell. The couple are estranged, the ex-wife has a new boyfriend and it’s the anniversary of their deceased child’s death. It’s clichéd back story that has no place to hide in an overly barren landscape.

The entire story hinges on a plot point that has a hole big enough to drive a two-ton truck through. Unfortunately, revealing it would constitute a spoiler. So suffice it to say, if you’re talking to someone who can see your life history at a glance, why would you lie? Perhaps it’s because micro-surveillance has a negative effect on IQs. So maybe the caveat of this film should be that if technology does all our thinking, we’ll forget to do it ourselves. But with Siri’s army at our fingertips, this is possibly already happening.

Limited Los Angeles and New York release.
Streaming on Netflix