Tuesday, February 6, 2024

'Restore Point' (2023) Movie Review

a detective and a corpse
What if you could save your life at a certain point and, if you die unexpectedly, can then reset to that moment, like a video game? That’s the general idea of director Robert Hloz’s Restore Point, a slice of dystopian sci-fi. A solid, sturdy neo-noir, the film combines a twisting mystery and cool world building with an intriguing idea that plays something like Chinatown by way of Minority Report, both thematically and aesthetically. 


Set in 2041, amidst an increasingly chaotic and violent society, a new technology comes along that allows people to back up their consciousness in the likely inevitable event of their brutal death. When a couple is murdered and the killer takes steps to make sure they can’t be rebooted, the case falls to detective Emma Trochinowska (Andrea Mohylova). Shock of all shocks, she’s a bit of a lone wolf who operates by her own rules, has a personal vendetta, and doesn’t play well with others or as part of a team. Gasp. Accompanied by the imperfect copy of the murdered man (Matej Hadek), illegally restored from an out of date version, they dive into seedy underbelly of the glossy future, a luddite terrorist group opposed to this technological innovation, and a shifting mess of corporate intrigue, deep dark secrets, and a world where nothing is as it initially appears. 


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As this unlikely duo stumbles through this sprawling conspiracy, they also stumble through a nicely realized future. On one hand, Restore Point presents the slick, severe, antiseptic potential world achieved largely by invasive governmental overreach. On the other, we see the hidden basement, the gritty, ruined facets that prop up the fa├žade. As we bear witness to the details, the script also deftly hands out bits of information, delivering just enough to sell the whole package without going overboard and bogging down in the specifics. 


One detail here stands out as a hiccup in the otherwise smooth world building, the film never gets into the nitty gritty logistics of how a physical body, perhaps one shot in the head or otherwise mangled, can be quickly revived and restored back to its original glory. This choice has the odd distinction of being simultaneously smart and frustrating as hell. Smart because any attempt to cram in scientific sounding jargon was bound to ring false. Continually frustrating because it remains a looming question throughout. In one scene we see doctors restore a consciousness to the body of a child who died of cancer. That’s great and drives home the benefits and appeal of such a technology; there’s no longer any unnecessary, unfair death. (If you can afford it.) But they also restore the child’s consciousness into the body that just died. Of cancer. Where did the cancer go? If they can somehow heal the cancer in a corpse, couldn’t they do that when the body was alive? Similar logic applies to bullet wounds, car crashes, people being thrown from tall buildings… This isn’t a situation where they’re growing new bodies, it’s the same body, somehow magically fixed. What happens if you get run over by a steam roller? I don’t know, weird tangent for sure, but this stuck in my craw throughout.


[Related Reading: 'Devils' Movie Review]


Restore Point doesn’t blaze any new trails. Despite the cool, intriguing setting, the plot is a pretty straightforward procedural with a protagonist that, while compelling enough, is an amalgamation of genre greatest hits. But even while it’s familiar, it works as a tight, well-paced detective thriller that gets down to business and does the thing in fully satisfying fashion and thus has a great deal to recommend checking it out. It's one that I saw at a festival months ago, but that I keep thinking about on a regular basis. [Grade: B]

This is an updated version of an earlier review.


Find all of our Fantasia 2023 coverage here.

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