At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Crimes of the Future “2022”

At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Crimes of the Future “2022”

MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Body Horror/ Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Don McKellar, Scott Speedman, Welket Bungué, Lihi Kornowski, Tanaya Beatty, Yorgos Karamihos, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos, Nadia Litz, Sozos Sotiris/Runtime: 107 minutes

I think it is a fairly safe argument to make that if we as individuals were to take a glimpse into the long and storied saga of man’s time on this planet, one of the distinct situations that would consistently make its presence known is the fact that mankind throughout the ages has always found a perverse joy in not only blazing new trails, but also in accepting ideas and concepts that those who came before us would often be unable to comprehend as being acceptable by “societal standards” or just view as being absolutely ridiculous. Yet for this reviewer although the best example of this phenomenon would undoubtedly be parachute pants (I mean seriously what was the deal with those?), perhaps a close second would be the idea presented to us in iconic film helmer David Cronenberg’s newest slice of cinema Crimes of the Future, and which takes the form of a rebranding on how people choose to see their bodies as a conduit for pleasure to traverse through. Indeed for his newest foray into truly gruesome body horror, we see that this skilled helmer has decided to envision for our species a future where we have become exasperated with how we perceive sex and instead turn to contorting our internal organs let alone the skin covering them into doing an almost twisted tango in the hopes that it will provide us with the degree of affection and closeness we desire. Put another way: in this society getting a surgery or medical procedure done is the equivalent to being addicted to the latest porno. Suffice it to say that if you aren’t getting an uneasy feeling in your stomach from that….hats off to you, but don’t be surprised if people find it a bit…..strange. At any rate, we see that in the aftermath of Cronenberg’s run of more present day cinematic fare, he has finally decided to come back with this slice of cinema to the realm of sci-fi/horror which is where he first made a name for himself. Yet even though its title is one that Cronenberg had used on one of his very first films back when he got started in the 70s, fear not dear reader for this slice of cinema is most definitely not a dreaded remake. With that being established though, this is the fulfillment of a vision that Cronenberg has been tinkering with for close to 2 decades and trust me when I say it most definitely shows. By that I mean this slice of cinema is most assuredly one that is absolutely vibrant in both the concepts it is presenting and the world it is constructing for us to immerse ourselves in. Unfortunately, even though its vision is phenomenally sculpted to say nothing of genuinely horrifying, this slice of cinema is crippled by the fact that the movie doesn’t take the movie goer as far down the rabbit hole as it ought to despite the game efforts of both a talented cast and crew as well as its iconic helmer to say nothing of the chilling core idea running through the movie. That being that if we as a species grew oblivious to the 4-alarm system within the body known as pain then have we just lost the right to claim we are human? Suffice it to say that it may have its flaws including not going as far as it could’ve and maybe should’ve with its premise, but there is no denying that this slice of cinema manages to be a triumph in how it gifts the viewer with a distinct answer that only Cronenberg could bring to life.

The plot is as follows: The plot is as follows: The slice of cinema that is Crimes of the Future is one that transports you, the viewer head on into a possible future for our species where we see that the typical human body has managed to transform to such an extent that the distinct possibility of pain let alone other factors such as infection and even injury are not exactly a big cause for concern anymore. As a result, we see that mankind has now made the choice to try to locate new excitement in their daily lives that to us might seem ghastly, but to people in this future are very much ordinary and part of their everyday lives. Thus we see that it is in this topsy-turvy world that we are quickly introduced to a man by the name of Saul Tenser. A guy who, side by side with his loving and devoted partner Caprice, make for a pair of fairly unique performers in a manner of speaking. By that I mean here is a guy whose body is skilled at being able to grow new internal appendages and things of that nature that his highly skilled partner then proceeds to surgically get out of his body much to the shock and admiration of those who choose to witness this live. Yet even though this might sound rather ghastly and just plain grotesque, it might shock you even more to learn that this dynamic duo has managed to acquire quite the devoted fan base with even a few devotees thrown into the mix as well. Incidentally, there is one of the latter group who is particularly interesting. This is because this woman by the name of Timlin is someone whose career of choice is as an employee at an organization known as the National Organ Registry or NOR for short. An organization whose primary function is to make sure all organs in the vein (pun intended) that Saul is able to produce are fully documented and accounted for. Yet even though a lot of the actions that Saul and Caprice are engaged in with regard to organ procurement to say nothing of the showcasing of said procurement do follow the letter of the law to a t, they are still nevertheless operating on a very distinct thin line that is overseen by a government watchdog group of sorts known as the New Vice Squad. A line incidentally that is soon challenged when a man by the name of Scott Speedman tries to hire our dynamic duo to incorporate a live autopsy on his deceased child into a future performance of theirs. As a result, we see that it isn’t long before we see that the New Vice Squad, and by extension you the viewer, are forced to figure out not only if these artists are about to finally cross that proverbial line and go too far, but if they are then what possibly can be done about it? Suffice it to say that by the end of this slice of cinema you might start to have the beginnings of an answer to that question….

Now right off the bat it should be said that there is quite a bit at play in this slice of cinema. Indeed not only is this slice of cinema operating with a bit of a caustic glimpse at a future for our species where the blending together of the human body and soulless machinery are becoming more and more commonplace, but then it also manages to combine this with an astonishingly delicate look at a group of people who are stuck in this new world as well as a bleak yet witty assessment of the things that entertain people. Suffice it to say that is quite a lot in terms of narrative material for a single film to unpack so imagine my delight and surprise to see that this slice of cinema manages to pull it off in a manner that is equal parts gallows humor, visceral, surprising, but also weirdly moving respectively. Put another way dear reader: this is a slice of cinema that is very much a David Cronenberg film through and through to say nothing of a trip for the mind that the sights shown to you might make your stomach turn. More than that, it is a slice of cinema that, with the aid of a conclusion that is very much the definition of cryptic, manages to actually be quite terrifying in what it seems to be suggest about this possible future without going into full-blown horror film territory. With that said though, this quite enigmatic analysis on willing human altering is one that contains thematic concepts that its scribe-helmer has been operating with for basically his whole career. In that regard therefore, this slice of cinema could very well be viewed as a totality of the body horror subgenre of movie magic that Cronenberg is highly seen as one of the founding fathers of. Sure as previously mentioned he may have wrote this film’s script over twenty years ago and sure in a lot of aspects it feels like a companion to a movie he helmed in 1999 known as ExistenZ. Yet if you choose to view it through the prism of Cronenberg’s filmography, you will find that as its own distinct entity, this slice of cinema is an unnerving yet riveting glimpse at human metamorphosis in a world gone topsy-turvy even if it’s not quite up to par with the best that Cronenberg has given. Now in terms of other components behind the camera, I am aware that this slice of cinema wasn’t the best shooting situation in the world. However, even though the cap on both time and finances does appear at points this slice of cinema is still fairly well done. Indeed this starts with the production design department which does a terrific job at utilizing the ravaged locales to the fullest extent possible for the narrative while also brilliantly bringing the various tools described on the page and essential to the story being told so vividly to life. Yet when you also take the time to factor in a musical accompaniment that is the very definition of appropriately atmospheric let alone vehement and strong work from the editing department that strengthens the tone of the film considerably, there is no denying that behind the camera this most assuredly is a highly competently made film.

Now the other key ingredient in this distinct cinematic mix that helps it work as well it should is undoubtedly the work done by the film’s talented cast of players who are most assuredly on the same wave length as Cronenberg in regards to what he is trying to achieve with this film. This starts with two of Cronenberg’s regular on-screen partners in crime (or dare I say his cronies?) in the forms of Viggo Mortensen and Don McKellar respectively and they both, unsurprisingly, are fantastic. Indeed in the role of Saul, we see that Mortensen manages to beautifully play the guy in such a way that at first we may see him in one light, but as the film goes on starts to shed a few layers and thus by film’s end reveal a character that is actually more complex than first blush may have suggested. As for McKellar he is also pretty good in the role of Wippet complete with a lot more snark and giggle than most of the other characters in this universe. Now in terms of new kids on the Cronenberg block, we see that Seydoux is absolutely magnetic in this in her role and, in a very perverse way, she and Mortensen actually have really good chemistry together while Speedman proves to be a terrific blend of both distressed yet also driven with his respective character. Now I’m not going to lie: I did enjoy the performance given in this by Kirsten Stewart even though for some it might be a bit too much. With that said though, the goal with this performance was she is being asked to showcase how insanely passionate a groupie for something can be and in that respect she gives a performance that is fairly on point with both the rest of the cast and the world of the film respectively.

All in all if you should make the choice to compare this head-on to a lot of the earlier entries in Cronenberg’s distinct filmography, then I think you might be a teeny tiny bit dismayed by what you get with this film. In all fairness though from a design perspective, the fact that so much filmmaking is done digitally to say nothing of the current state of affairs in the world around us just doesn’t permit for Cronenberg to make slices of cinema that are as palpable or that were shot as the ones he was able to gift audiences back in the 70s and 80s respectively. With that in mind though, the vibe of feeling like you are in a waking nightmare placed side by side with you really questioning if what you are seeing unfold is something that you should in fact be seeing in the first place that only Cronenberg can bring to the cinematic table is thankfully very much alive and well in this (aided immensely herein by the work of both a truly talented cast and crew). Suffice it to say there is no denying that Cronenberg has received a fair amount of praise for the work he has given audiences, but at the end of the day I still feel like, no matter what, he still doesn’t get appreciated as much as he ought to for being one of the most distinct cinematic voices of his or any other generation of cinematic wizardry. Indeed I really can’t think of anyone who would put to the screen the things that David Cronenberg has managed to, and while some surely might not know what to make of his work, I for one sincerely hope he continues to keep giving audiences ooey-gooey yet also intelligently twisted slices of cinema like this one for the foreseeable future plus at least 30 more years on top of that. Make of that what you will dear reader. On a scale of 1-5 I give Crimes of the Future “2022” a solid 3.5 out of 5.