It’s a shame that science-fiction never gets the funding it deserves unless it’s in the hands of the big Hollywood studios. It means that great ideas are poorly executed. There are some interesting thoughts in Justin Trefgarne’s directorial that elevate it from the Syfy masses but, despite its glossy visuals, it doesn’t entirely convince.
Opening with a Blade Runner-esque 2044 cityscape, two tech-vigilantes are attempting to infiltrate a large computer mainframe. Narcopolis takes us back 20 years, to 2024, where recreational drugs are no longer illegal and cops, known as “Drecks” (sound familiar?), are employed to put unlicensed dealers out of business and keep the licensed drug manufacturers rich.
Frank (Elliot Cowan) is a clichéd noir narc battling addiction from personal demons while trying to re-connect with wife and child. Cue a dead body with half its head missing and unrecognisable DNA, and before long he’s mixed up in a world involving police corruption, a sinister drugs corp cover-up, an unidentifiable woman and a cryptic scientist called Sidorov (Jonathan Pryce), who appears to be allergic to technology.
Narcopolis is aesthetically well-made and it sounds even better. However, the fluidity of the shots are sometimes disturbed by clunky editing or shaky-cam.The abundant use of out-of-focus shots are accompanied by unnecessary stills that are frustratingly distracting.
Trefgarne flails around with a number of concepts that lack clarity; it’s like a very long scene from a videogame he narrative isn’t confusing but it flits too quickly from one sub-plot to another without development. There is not enough contextual background for a satisfying result It’s not terribly bad but it’s not terribly good either.
It feels unfair to criticise a film that has tried to deliver something beyond the constraints of a low budget but the issue of incoherency doesn’t require a shedload of money to correct. Some more time and perhaps care with the script would have allowed Narcopolis to be a very decent sci-fi thriller.
Narcopolis is released nationwide on 25th September 2015.
Watch the trailer for Narcopolis here: