This day and age has seen the rise of the ‘slutty’ trailer. You know the kind. In less than three minutes it shows far more than it has to, ruins all the best bits and takes away all the surprises. With that in mind, it is such a refreshing experience to attend a screening for a film you know absolutely nothing about. Enter 009 Re:Cyborg.
Despite its less than catchy title, and the fact it has been barely marketed in the UK, 009 Re:Cyborg manages to deliver a pretty solid science fiction film that attempts to unite action-packed spectacle with brushes of existential philosophical thought.
Prior to the events of the film, a team of cyborgs, each with their own ability, were created to protect the Earth. Fast forward to 2012 and the start of 009 Re:Cyborg. An unknown force, known only as His Voice, is manipulating people into becoming suicide bombers who, under His’ orders, are blowing up the world’s skyscrapers. The team must reunite to face whatever evil His Voice turns out to be.
Okay, so in terms of narrative, there isn’t much that’s completely new here. The idea of the ‘cyborg’ has been explored by pretty much everyone in cinema, from James Cameron to Jean-Claude Van Damme; the superhero team has recently been done fairly definitively in Marvel’s The Avengers, and 009‘s brooding personality, Christ complex and physical agility can be seen in Neo from the Matrix, Superman and many others. Even someone like me, who is almost entirely ignorant of the manga/anime medium, could easily find parallels between 009 and Light Yagami, the anti-hero from Death Note.
But, regardless of these points, this movie still has a hell of a lot going for it. Its running time of 109 minutes zips by like a Ferrari running on concord fuel, which means 009 Re:Cyborg never outstays its welcome, and is never too far away from action or spectacle. Everything is beautifully animated and, as hard as it is for me to say this, actually uses 3D to its advantage. Kawai Kenji’s score for the film is also an orchestral, melodramatic delight.
Most of what is actually wrong with this film comes down to its story. Things noticeably derail in the film’s second half, especially as most of the answers it provides to its more existential questions are not very satisfying at all. An early subplot involving 009 being seduced to the dark side and planning his own terrorist attack becomes muddy quickly, before being forgotten altogether.
For the most part, however, you can’t help but admire 009 Re:Cyborg’s grand ambitions when it comes to looking at religious fundamentalism, terrorism and man’s complex relationship with God. While not everything in this movie works, its gorgeous visuals, resonating soundtrack and surprisingly profound themes means 009 Re:Cyborg is most definitely worthy of your time.
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