Synopsis: In the future, prisons have been turned into online portals where paying subscribers get to vote on what felons eat, watch, wear and who they fight. Panopticon TV is so successful it is about to be rolled out to a whole new town. When the worlds most downloaded felon escapes, the authorities set a trap to reel him in. The bait is his little brother who has so far managed to avoid detection.
Review: Available on Amazon Video as a rental. This is yet another dystopian film in a similar vein to escape from new york, but a bit lower key in regards to the action.
Set in an America of the near future. Corporations have run wild and Panopticon is the one that seems to have the most traction with regards to various technologies such as RFID implants that replace money and service robots and drones. But this corporation also runs a Reality TV show in which felons are given a chance to redeem themselves through a series of challenges. But what was initially meant as a means of rehabilitation has been corrupted by the head of Panopticon Neilson, who is played by Alison Doody (Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, and James Bond: A View To A Kill).
The Panopticon corporation has such a grip on America that the US President is utterly powerless to stop them, and he is coming under more and more pressure to get a grip on the corporations via a group of Hacktivist, who are led by Nash. The younger brother of Hardin Jones who is a felon that has done all he can to get out from the grip of the Towns.
As the film develops. It becomes apparent that it is centered on a huge effort to bring the Panopticon Corporation and their reality tv series down. And Hardin Jones is just the person to do it.
Because this film plays out a little like a docudrama by never really giving you a massive amount of time to get to know the characters fully. It was a little tough to pick out individual performances that stand out. I think in part this is to do with the fact that we seen a fair bit of drone footage and lots of rather stylized camera work.
Alison Doody made for an interesting villain as she often has done in the past, but I really wanted to learn a bit more about Neilson than what was revealed. She seemed to spend most of her time surveying her domain and barking orders. But she does have a pretty good scene toward the end of the movie where she tries to bribe Hardin Jones.
Also channeling his best snake Pliskin is Jamie Draven as Hardin Jones. Who is written a bit like the Clint Eastwood mysterious stranger character crossed with a snake from ‘Escape Fron New York’.
Clarke Peters (John Wick, Three Billboards outside of Ebbing Missouri, and The Wire) also puts in an interesting and somewhat short turn as Perelman who is the man that created the towns but enlists Hardin’s help to take them down by killing their greatest asset.
Division 19 is an interesting look at a possible future involving various technologies that are already fairly common today. The world building is pretty impressive to a point where it pretty much dominates the first 20 minutes or so of the film bombarding us with advertising memes and invitations to adopt a felon and such like.
If anything. The film was rather oppressive in that it didn’t really have any humor to it. Absolutely none. Not even a hint of gallows humor. If anything. You get the sense that pretty much every character in this movie is a prisoner of some sort or another given how dependent they have all become on technologies to a point where everything felt kind of sterile. Which is probably the point that the film is kind of trying to make.
Acting wise. The cast did the best with what they were given. I think had the writer of the film added a smattering of humor here and there he may have got a few stronger performances.
Overall. This film tries to do something different but doesn’t quite succeed. This is a dark brooding science fiction movie that manages to make an average episode of Eastenders seem rather cheerful. It’s an adequate film, but it isn’t something that I’d likely re-watch.
- Incidental Music6.0