Cypher Review

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Mild-mannered Morgan Sullivan (Northam) becomes an industrial spy, only to find he has been brainwashed. His identity crumbles as he is caught between two sinister corporations


A follow-up to Vincenzo Natali's striking debut feature, Cube, Cypher is another semi-science-fictional exercise in puzzle-setting and solving.

Constructed around a multi-layered, subtly transforming performance from Jeremy Northam, the film pulls and prods its paranoid protagonist through mental mazes. These become physical, as Northam has to escape from an underground security vault via a deep-core liftshaft, and has a major confrontation atop a skyscraper while his identity morphs yet again.

Also great fun is Lucy Liu, flitting into the film in the sexiest stealth helicopter and constantly pulling the rug out from under the hero. It has an almost monochrome colour scheme, reflected by the muted emotions of its environments, and plays Philip K. Dick-style mindgames with sly humour as everyday objects (pens, salt-shakers, china dogs) are revealed to be surveillance gadgets, and every tiny moment might be a clue or an omen.

The cult following Natali cultivated with Cube will be delighted with this atmospheric braintease; mass acclaim, however, is unlikely to follow just yet.