The admirable ensemble cast of Disconnect does for the Internet what Crash did for the multi-cultural urban landscape. Trash it.
If you can ignore its unrelentingly bleak outlook, didactic tone and occasional melodrama, this worthy drama turns our connected on-line world on its head in a tidal wave of suspicion, distrust, paranoia and personal betrayal.
A collection of interwoven plots forms an overall narrative as the lives of the talented cast crossover and tear apart entirely because of the connections made on line.
TV journalist Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion) researches a story about runaway teen sex-workers on the Internet; her station’s lawyer Jason Bateman (Paul) tries to track down the cyber-bullies who triggered his son’s suicide attempt, with the help of cyber-investigator Frank Grillo (The Grey), who is tracking the cyber-stalker of Paula Patton (MI4 Ghost Protocol), whose damaged war vetern husband Alex Skaarsgard (True Blood) suspects is neighbour Michael Nyqvist (Dragon Tattoo triology).
Shot in unforgiving closeups with the dark, dingy, directorial flair of a Scandi-noir thriller, Disconnect is well put together and the cast get to show off their best buttoned down performances; up until the fists and the hockey sticks and the black market guns come out in the rain-soaked denouements and you wish everyone had stayed in front of their iMacs.
Disconnect tries its hardest not to be judgemental, but in order to make the Internet a) cinematic and b) interesting, has nowhere to go but pile every lurid cyber-horror story onto a tiny group of people and convince us we’d all be better off with a good book or a few games down the bingo hall. But not on-line bingo. No, no. That’s the Internet. That’s evil.
On the one hand, it’s muddled, messy and random, just like the on line and real worlds. On the other, documentary maker Henry Rubin (Murderball) contrives to make a mainstream movie.
Is Disconnect a timely reminder, or is it an Internet movie ten years too late? Is it far too worthy for its own good, or are the star performances enough to get it through? The tech-savvy will be saying ‘oh please’ and the Luddites will just say ‘I told you so’. RC
Director: Henry Alex Rubin
Writer: Andrew Stern
Cast: Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Alexander Skarsgård, Paula Patton, Colin Ford, Andrea Riseborough, Frank Grillo, Michael Nyqvist
Running time: 108 minutes
Related: Primer (2011)