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|Cinema Signal: A superb time-travel adventure for an audience that wants to be challenged. Green light!||MOBILE version ||
If you like films that challenge your senses you're in the right bar, er... theater seat. Based on, or inspired by, Robert A. Heinlein's science fiction short story, "All You Zombies," the first mystery is that there aren't any zombies here. But it is intrigue and adventurous fun in a daring sci-fi context.
Warning: what you get is not necessarily what you see, and the revelations come, at times, at explosive speed.
There's a bomber afoot, slowly destroying the city. Newspaper headlines have branded him The Fizzle Bomber, and there's no easy way to stop him. With 11,000 New Yorkers victims of his actions he thinks total destruction is predestined. His target date for total annihilation is sometime in March, 1975.
But the covert Temporal Bureau thinks otherwise. Their man, who we'll come to know as the Agent, the Temporal Agent, and Barkeep (Ethan Hawke, ("Before Midnight," "Boyhood"), equipped with a Coordinate Transformer Field Kit, aka Time Machine, is closing in on the madman in the shadowy sub-basement of a critical city building.
But, it doesn't go well for the agent and, in a life-or-death moment, he's got to shift time to before the incident.
It's now 10:17 PM, ET, November 7th, 1970, which is when Author Heinlein begins his short story -- five years before that encounter. He's now working as a savvy, slightly cynical bartender when a red-headed person enters the establishment and takes a seat at the bar.
After a lot of testy banter, the drinker identifies himself with a pen name, "Unmarried Mother," referring to the byline of his weekly confessional column. At the Barkeep's prodding, the mysterious drinker tells his story, which is a tale of a macabre upbringing.
Paying close attention here is imperative. It's a game, a puzzle, intricately plotted. Hawke gives it all the suave style and propulsion the supernatural concept needs. His co-star, S. Snook, a relatively new actor, turns in a stellar, virtuousic performance of considerable dimension.
For their third feature film the Spierigs abundantly demonstrate their backgrounds in film and graphic design. Peter is credited for the eerily furtive, pulsating score, another powerful force here.
Director of Photography Ben Nott ("Chinese Zodiac") does a smashing job with his cunningly adept visual environment, playing the deep shadows like a maestro of the cryptic, the inscrutable, the magical. His contribution is critical to the Speirigs selling what is an edgy, daring fantasy adventure.
The literary background should be of interest to sci-fi fans. After years of capitalizing on the darkly wonderful tales by Philip K. Dick ("Blade Runner," "Total Recall") this film would suggest that the movie industry is moving on to his artistic colleague. Heinlein's work is another treasure trove for movie adaptation.