From writer/director Noah Hutton (In Silico, Crude Independence), Lapsis is a strange, almost dreamlike movie. It’s one of those films where everything seems just a little bit off, a little skewed in how it’s filmed and acted, but after a slightly slow start it’s a compelling ride that will suck you into this strange, green world of cables, cablers and drones.
A pointed look at the 21st century’s “gig economy” and the impacts of gentrification, the story revolves around Ray (Dean Imperial – Dreams of Lydia). Ray’s just a regular blue collar schlub. He’s not looking to cause trouble or change the world, he just wants to get his head down and get enough money to support himself and his half-brother Jamie (Babe Howard in his first movie appearance) who suffers from the chronic fatigue condition known as “Omnia”. When Ray’s lost luggage work dries up, he decides to sign up as a cabler, laying connections in the wilderness to expand the new quantum computing network, enticed by the prospect of making a lot of money in fairly short order.
READ MORE: Freaky – Film Review
Receiving a cabling medallion from contact/friend/fixer Felix (James McDaniel – NYPD Blue, Malcolm X), Ray heads out into the wilds and into this strange new world where his every waking moment is tracked by satellite and drone, where there’s the ever present threat of his route being taken from him by one of the robotic cabling carts that never need to stop or sleep, and where his fellow human cablers treat him with strange looks and suspicion when they see his user/trail name.
Before going any further, I have to single out Dean Imperial’s performance. This is apparently only the second thing he’s been in, and he’s utterly brilliant. You honestly forget you’re watching an actor in a story, he just becomes Ray and you’re with him every step of the way as he struggles to adapt to this new way of life and piece together the mystery of the medallion he’s been given, all while dealing with other cablers who seem to have agendas of their own beyond simply making money. While nobody here turns in a bad performance, he really is the heart and soul of the story.
READ MORE: Murder by Decree (1979) – Blu-ray Review
So what about the story of Lapsis? A bad story can undermine even the best actors, so does Noah Hutton deliver in the writing department? Happily, yes. The universe presented here is one of those where everything just seems slightly skewed, reality seen through a distorted mirror. You can’t put your finger on it, but there’s something that seems ever so slightly off about it. Close enough that you can easily identify with it, but distinctly “other” at the same time. The early conversation between Ray and the cop is a perfect example.
The universe of Lapsis feels coherent and believable when compared to the real world world of Uber, AirBnB and Amazon warehouses, though there’s a definite shift in tone in the last half an hour or so. Ray’s story and motivations, though, remain solid, believable and relatable throughout. It’s just a shame that the mysterious “Omnia” is never really delved into in any meaningful way. It’s presented mainly so the story can subtly criticise the woo peddlers who sell overpriced nonsense to people desperate to find a solution that mainstream medicine has failed (for whatever reason) to provide.
READ MORE: Fast & Furious 9 – Film Review
Lapsis isn’t a film for anyone hoping for something that delves deep into the science. While ostensibly a science-fiction story, it doesn’t look too deeply at the whole “quantum” thing, the focus is on the people and the way they’re treated by these cabling companies. The only other criticism is the opening scene of the film, which doesn’t seem to quite mesh with the rest of the story. It tries to set the scene, but none of the actual characters from the film are in it so it feels out of place. Those nitpicks aside, it’s well worth setting aside some time to go for a trek in the woods with Ray and his cabling cart.
Lapsis is out on Digital Platforms on 5th July from Signature Entertainment.