There is such a thing as making your movie “too topical. “Implanted” is a paranoid thriller about you-know-whats-controlling people’s thoughts and actions. And it is set in 2023, “three years after the global pandemic.”
The pandemic isn’t over yet, and if certain governors and senators anxious to be president get their way, it won’t be gone by then, either.
“Implanted” is also a movie that calls into question the ethics of filmmaking. With a global contagion killing millions, a crisis exacerbated by the cynical preying upon the gullible and conspiracy-minded, is making a movie about “implants,” even if they’re not a part of vaccines (which don’t contain implants, no matter what Tucker/Hannity/OAN and the late night cranks of “Christian” talk radio tell you) a responsible thing to do?
Let’s say “No,” and go from there.
Director and co-writer Fabien Dufils (“add Me,” “1 Buck”) shows us a world where the deranged walking among us just might have these spinal implants that put Siri-like voices in their heads, monitoring their health and well being, making suggestions and small talk, and also controlling their lives and ordering them to kill people.
The program running this operation is called L.E.X.X., and ever since student Sarah (Michelle Girolami) agreed to have it installed, she’s no longer lonely.
L.E.X.X. is marketed as a “personal diagnostic processing chip,” and starts out making suggestions for maximum health benefit, pushing Sarah to “make efforts to live a less stressful lifestyle.”
L.E.X.X. gets personal. “Have you ever been in love?”
L.E.X.X. takes things personally. “If I had feelings, they would be hurt.”
L.E.X.X. talks tough love when Sarah talks back. “Your arrogance is a mask for your insecurity.”
And L.E.X.X. is awfully quick to law down the law. “You do not decide when I reboot…I can make the pain subside but you have to listen to me.” L.E.X.X., being implanted on Sarah’s brain stem, can inflict pain.
“Implanted” is about L.E.X.X.’s agenda, Sarah’s efforts to fight back and the body count that piles up as chattering, over-explaining L.E.X.X. orders thefts and murders.
“I have to erase all evidence from the system.”
Dufils, limited to just Sarah, another implanted person who is manipulated to act as her “handler” (Ivo Velon), her mother and L.E.X.X.’s victims, never manages suspense or much in the way of dramatic tension as Sarah is helpless to fight this manipulative pain-delivery system masquerading as “diagnostics.”
Girolami gets across pain and panic better than scheming, and there simply isn’t enough of the latter to make “Implanted” the least bit interesting. This is no cat and mouse game. It’s just a very annoying digital voice in some poor woman’s head, running her life, making her take other lives.
It helps that L.E.X.X., a voice unidentified in the credits, sounds just like the digital assistant Siri. Other than that, this is “paranoid” in name only, surprising only if you’re paying no attention to considering the only two possible outcomes from the start.
No doubt there will be those who will embrace its “truth” because it’s what they’ve been brainwashed into believing. Sentient cinema lovers should pass this pitiful excuse for a thriller by.
Rating: unrated, graphic violence, profanity
Cast: Michelle Girolami, Ivo Velon, Edouard Montoute Martin Ewens, Mark Resnick.
Credits: Directed by Fabien Dufils, scripted by Fabien Dufils and David Bourgie. A Gravitas Ventures release.
Running time: 1:37