'Jackrabbit': Tribeca Review
Post-apocalyptic hackers wonder what's beyond City Six.
A distant, emaciated cousin to the young adult dystopian adventures filling multiplexes in recent years, Carleton Ranney's Jackrabbit finds two young hackers trying to see behind the walls of their mildly Orwellian world. Moody and terse, with very few production elements that couldn't be found at a yard sale, the film might have done for this genre what Primer did for time travel. But an undercooked story gives viewers little to dig into here, and in the absence of a puzzle to solve, the picture's deliberate pace plays as sluggishness. Some genre fans will go for it, especially at specialty fests, but commercial hopes are slim.
Simon (Josh Caras) is a doughy young man with a talent for computers — or what is left of computers 25 years after "The Reset" wiped out most of Earth's technology. He's about to start a job with Vopo Technologies, the firm that seemingly keeps a lid on the insulated City Six — where guard posts stand at the city limits and citizens have CCTV cameras in their homes, feeding surveillance footage to watchers we never see. Simon is distracted from upward mobility by an anti-social outlaw hacker named Max (Ian Christopher Noel). The two have a mutual friend who just killed himself, leaving behind a hard drive with important messages encrypted on it.
Not a whole lot happens as the two try to figure out the meaning of all this, and it doesn't seem unfair to wonder just how thoroughly Ranney himself knows this world. A minimalist synth score by MGMT's Will Berman (likely inspired by John Carpenter) helps create a retro-oppressive mood, but who's the oppressor here, and what do they have to gain by watching their depressed subjects as they sleep?
Production company: Vopo Technologies
Cast: Josh Caras, Ian Christopher Noel, Joslyn Jensen, Reed Birney
Director: Carleton Ranney
Screenwriters: Carleton Ranney, Destin Douglas
Producers: Rebecca Rose Perkins, Destin Douglas, Joseph Stankus
Executive Producers: Susan Hargis, Frederick W. Perkins
Director of photography: Ashley Connor
Production designer: William Hatch Crosby
Editors: Joseph Stankus, Talia Barrett
Music: Will Berman
Sales: Kevin Iwashina, Preferred Content
No rating, 101 minutes