The Gift



CANNES -- Mr. Peterson's got a better cell phone than you. His cool gizmo tells him winning slot machines, leads him to babes, alerts him to hot stocks. That's the too-good-to-be-true premise of this taut sci-fi/horror thriller, which cagily meshes new technology with proven genres.

"The Gift" is a male-fantasy story trip that blasts through international hot spots, techno-charged with quick cuts, sound salvos and testosterone-fueled action. It may score solid numbers overseas with the teenage action crowd, but in the U.S. it seems best fit for an outlet such as cable channel Spike TV, whose viewers will be pleased with its cut-to-the-chase, cut-the-chit-chat storytelling.

That old horror storyline staple -- that man's hubris leads him to scientific creations that will turn on him -- is "The Gift's" solid story infrastructure. In this case, the U.S. National Security folk have created a veritable monster through cyberspace -- Big Brother will be everywhere, unless our hero and a cadre of F.B.I. specialists can thwart the system.

Greg Marcks' apt fast-forward direction is invigorated by the sharp technical team's aesthetic expertise and the crisp lead performances of Shane West, Edward Burns and Ving Rhames. "The Gift" blazes over plot holes and holds aloft its cyber mumbo-jumbo narrative. As the National Security chief, Martin Sheen's sonorous barking lends credibility to the film's urgent premise.

Cast: Shane West, Edward Burns, Ving Rhames, Yuri Kutsenko, Sergey Gubanov, Martin Sheen, Steven Elder. Director: Greg Marcks. Screenwriters: Kevin Elders, Michael Nitsberg. Producers: Alexander Leyvinan, Steve Richards, Roee Sharon. Director of photography: Lorenzo Senatore . Production designer: Antonello Rubino. Costume designer: Alison Freer, Maria Mladenoza. Editor:Joseph Gutowski .
Dark Castle Presents a Mobicom Entertainment Production
Sales: Hyde Park International.
No MPAA rating, 119 minutes.