ANON (2018) Andrew Niccol.
I was one of the earliest subscribers to Netflix, having DVDs delivered within the first couple of months the service became available, but in recent years, since they began producing their own content, I noticed a change. Suggestions were dark and/or painfully mindless. I enjoy a good horror movie, but I noticed right off that the movies they were producing were distinctly unpleasant, feeling as if their sole purpose was to upset and traumatize the viewer as was the case with The Open House (2018), a horror movie that slowly built-up, just to kill off the main characters and then roll the end credits. It was undeniably upsetting, like Walt Disney’s Bambi where the mother is killed and similarly as was done in The Lion King, it’s designed to traumatize. I found that new Netflix product was nothing more than social engineering and predictive programming, and I’ve been happy without the streaming service now for a couple of years.
Anon picks up where Minority Report leaves off. Here there is no crime because there are no secrets. Facial recognition is the norm. Remember how we all opted in to this on Facebook? In this world where “Anonymity is the enemy.” We are devoid of privacy. Everything is identified for us and thinking is not necessary nor is it even likely possible in this all too familiar ‘futuristic’ world.
Just as Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s virtual ‘assistants’ offer us the programmed and algorithmic answers in lieu of figuring things out for ourselves or coming to our own conclusions, it’s clear that Anon is not far from where we sit now and the Black Mirror-like premise would be interesting enough, if in fact it didn’t feel so much like prep work which is what it is.
In this gray dismal world (aren’t they always like that?), crimes are not easily covered up because all of our memories are available on a virtual cloud. (Speaking of which, when was the last time you uploaded to the ‘cloud’ or purchased more storage space to back-up all of your memories? Oh, the beauty of analog.) But back to the movie, some crimes are ignored like the subtle reparations propaganda in the form of a diamond bracelet stolen by a black woman. It’s programming like this that you notice more obviously when your eyes are open to it.
But as in most of these films of indoctrination, there is a moment in the end of feigned sympathetic understanding, the disingenuous ending. In this case it comes from a woman whose job is to eradicate the lies, crimes and indecencies of others. She explains why she shuns the system and why living off the grid is preferable. “It’s not that I have something to hide, I have nothing I want you to see.” This is behavior very much like politicians whose hypocritical actions align perfectly. In their world it’s, Do as I say, not as I do.
The entire film reminds us that a human life is nothing but an anagram for the word ‘file’—a word repeated over and over. And while alarmists in our everyday life talk ceaselessly about other people’s carbon footprints, they make no mention of our ever growing, ever revealing digital footprints which forever mark us and bind us to the globalist systems of control.
This review first appeared in the print version of Victims of Cinema. The first 50 reviews can be obtained HERE.