Noel Clarke’s low budget sci-fi thriller uses an interesting narrative device but suffers from plot contrivances, stock characters and a lack of originality.
Ryan (Noel Clarke) awakes in a moving van to see a young boy named Alex chained and only has a few minutes to discover how he got there and what is happening. As this moment of clarity draws to an end he slips into another blackout and awakes ten days later to find himself in the middle of a secretive covert operation with an apparent co-agent/soldier Harkin Langham (Ian Somerhalder). In this series of major time lapses, and brief moments of clarity, Ryan frantically pieces information together to uncover the truth of him, his relationship with Langham and the events surrounding him.
With a premise of this nature one would assume it’s a poor man’s Memento with a quasi sci-fi angle but it’s more in its inception (pun intended) than necessarily execution. Clarke’s ambition far outweighs the plot itself and this experience is disjointing. It is exciting to begin with as the film moves from one set piece to another in establishing Ryan’s world, but that excitement soon dissipates. And what potentially could have been a series of scenes of Ryan learning to outwit the people around him to gain information, the film either descends into fight sequences – made longer by the sparsely used slow-motion editing – or just him staring blankly at his new surroundings and asking a series of questions to the people around him. It begins frantic, but this set up unfortunately becomes very repetitive and cumbersome.
Clarke clearly has ambition, most notably in the performances and the setting of a futuristic London/New York, but these can only engage the audience for so long. In directorial attempt number three Clarke struggles to elevate The Anomaly above its interesting narrative structure. The film lacks wit, originality and is strung together by plot contrivances and average action set pieces.
The Anomaly was released nationwide 4th July 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Anomaly here: