'Virtual Revolution': Film Review

Virtual Revolution_Still - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of Tachkent Productions
Creative overreach that neglects narrative fundamentals.

Guy-Roger Duvert’s debut feature is an ambitious sci-fi thriller set in a predominantly online future.

Apparently the 2047 version of Paris will preserve much of the city’s distinct urban design, but with the addition of gigantic skyscrapers looming over the skyline, like birthday candles on an ornate cake — or at least that’s the vision of composer-turned-filmmaker Guy-Roger Duvert. Based on the template of massive multiplayer online role-playing games, sci-fi thriller Virtual Revolution is fairly ambitious for a first feature, so perhaps it’s telling that the most convincing scenes transpire within the movie’s virtual worlds, rather than throughout the principal narrative. 

Although the intent is clearly to create a somewhat disorienting visual experience, it’s the consistently derivative plotline that’s really at issue. After playing the fantasy and sci-fi film festival circuit for the latter half of the year and some brief theatrical exposure in France, the film now receives a perfunctory release for Los Angeles audiences.

Writer-director Duvert’s protagonist is Nash (Mike Dopud), a hired assassin for Synternis, a Neo Paris corporation that designs and maintains a variety of online games where millions of players participate in virtual worlds. Nash’s preferred universe is a medieval swordplay adventure, where his avatar is a younger, better-looking version of himself, leading a band of mercenaries facing off against a supernatural horde of demons. When he isn’t working on a Synternis contract, Nash logs in from the comfort of the control chair in his apartment for an experience that’s a hybrid of a video game and a virtual reality environment.

Unlike 75 percent of the populace who are the “connected,” spending almost all of their time online, Nash is a “hybrid” who also functions in the real world, seeking to discover how his girlfriend was murdered with a deadly artificial virus. Dina (Jane Badler), his handler at Synternis, needs Nash to investigate a disruption within the online games that’s crossing over into the everyday world as so-called terrorists known as necromancers continue to kill off players, impacting the corporation’s bottom line. With the help of rogue hacker Morel (Maximilien Poullein), Nash’s inquiry leads eventually to Camylle (Kaya Blocksage), who is leading an underground terrorist group while trying to avoid detection by Interpol agents as the necromancers attempt to compromise Synternis’ online systems.

Borrowing bits and pieces of the Matrix trilogy’s revolutionary scenario, Minority Report’s paranoid thrillride and Blade Runner’s distinctive visual aesthetic, Duvert’s DIY feature doesn’t seem to know which of its role models to emulate most. With a budget too limited to approximate an immersive sci-fi world despite some passable SFX, Duvert depends instead on an underdeveloped rebellion plot that takes too long to materialize, resulting in a weakly motivated cyber-noir thriller framed by Nash’s world-weary voiceover narration.

Dopud (Capital Punishment) invests Nash with a scruffy determination and a highly adaptable worldview that’s sufficient to achieve his mission, but not remarkable enough to really impress. Stuck in a futuristic office building, Badler’s Dina (V) could use much better lighting and a lot more to do than regurgitate futuristic corporate-speak, leaving the impression that if Duvert had concentrated more on forging a unique narrative rather than attempting to achieve a flashy visual style, the result might have been a bit more memorable.

Distributor-production company: Lidderdalei Productions
Cast: Mike Dopud, Jane Badler, Kaya Blocksage, Jochen Hagele, Maximilien Poullein, Petra Silander, Nicolas Van Beveren
Director-writer-producer-music: Guy-Roger Duvert
Executive producers: Gil Aglaure, Nicolo Laurent
Director of photography: Cyril Bron
Editor: Sylvain Franchet

Not rated, 92 minutes