Adapted from the acclaimed story by Project Itoh, the unfortunately-titled Genocidal Organ is a neat genre piece about those most pressing issues à la mode – surveillance states, the right to privacy, and the cost of security.Blending its film noir beats with the anime of Akira, Genocidal Organ shows a Western world beholden to biometric IDs and constant surveillance, immune to any terror threat, but with a third world swiftly succumbing to infighting and political mass murder.
In steps our square-jawed hero, Clavis Shepherd, tasked with tracking the leader of the anonymous-sounding Intermedia Group, whose mere presence seems to signal an onslaught in any third world countries where it takes root. Clavis is a genetically modified solider (aren’t they all?), “uninfluenced” by emotions – battling his coding when tasked with seducing a language specialist in Prague. Her past relationship with Intermedia’s CEO may lead Clavis and his gung-ho sidekick to their target.
Despite its title and plot synopsis, the film is a somewhat straight-forward actioner, more indebted to Gattaca than Ghost in the Shell. Especially thrilling is the espionage of the second act, with Clavis deploying familiar spy tactics to get closer to his mark, in a city that resists the pervasive surveillance native to most others. These genre tropes are both the movie’s strength and its downfall, as, despite the sci-fi trappings and Phillip K Dick-meets-Miyazaki look of the film, there is never any doubt of where our hero is headed. The “organ” of the title is our main MacGuffin – the villainous CEO having found a dialect that, once assumed by a community, can trigger an impulse to murder – keeping the third world in disarray, and the Western world safe in return.
Due to the heady themes Genocidal Organ tackles, we are treated to plenty of homilies about the evils of surveillance and freedom, which, while timely, run the risk of repetition by the end of the film’s near two-hour running length. These, coupled with the on-the-nose noir dialogue (“The dead can’t forgive anyone”) and score, lead patience to run a little thin before the violent dénouement. Likewise, our empathy with the leads, and the love triangle between Clavis, his mark, and the villain, are hampered by the two-dimensional design at times. It lacks the elastic expressionism and buoyancy of a Studio Ghibli effort, and offers lattices of blood and video game segue ways instead. Genocidal Organ is an enjoyable romp, with a heavy amount of déjà vu in its DNA.
Genocidal Organ is released in selected cinemas on 12th July 2017.
Watch the trailer for Genocidal Organ here: