Jeremy Northam as Morgan Sullivan
Lucy Liu as Rita Foster
Nigel Bennett as Finster
Timothy Webber as Callaway
David Hewlett as Virgil C. Dunn
Kari Matchett as Diane
Kristina Nicoll as Amy
Boyd Banks as Fred Garfield
Marcus Hutchings as Jamison
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 96 Minutes
This film was originally released in 2002 everywhere except for the US. The following is from the DVD cover:
“A pulse-pounding cyber thriller starring Jeremy Northam (Gosford Park, Emma) and Lucy Liu (Kill Bill Vol. 1, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle), Cypher is sure to entertain you! When computer expert Morgan Sullivan (Northam) joins a huge multinational company, he assumes a new identity and is sent undercover to investigate corporate espionage. Before long, he finds himself caught up in a vicious cycle of paranoia and mistrust. Then along comes Rita (Liu), a sexy and smart secret agent who informs Sullivan that he’s being brainwashed and that she is the only one who can help him! Loaded with riveting twists and amazing special effects … you’re sure to applaud this fast-paced thriller!”
Cypher is rated R for some language.
Seeing as how this movie went straight to video in the U.S., I wasn’t expecting it to be very good. However, it ended up being fairly entertaining for a low budget spy flick / sci-fi film. Cypher starts out pretty slow as we follow the lowly Morgan Sullivan becoming a corporate spy. But things take a decidedly bizarre turn as Morgan meets a counter spy, double agents, and brainwashing scientists. There are elements of The Matrix, Paycheck, They Live, and a variety of spy movies all apparent in Cypher. Everything leads up to an unexpected twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. I won’t spoil it here for you.
The acting in the film is OK, but it is also very restrained. Both Jeremy Northam as Morgan Sullivan and Lucy Liu as Rita Foster are almost robotic in their respective roles. There’s very little life in their characters, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. (I have to admit that I was surprised to find out that Northam is actually British in real life.) If you’re a fan of Lucy Liu, though, you may be surprised to find out that she’s not in the movie as much as you might suspect. She’s essentially the “Trinity” of this film.
The CG effects in Cypher aren’t that great. They’re TV show quality, but that’s to be expected with a low budget film. However, every other set and scene in the movie is fairly remarkable and the result is a good looking film that appears more expensive than it really is.
If you’re looking for a decent spy movie or a sci-fi thriller, then I think Cypher may suit your needs. It was much better than I thought it would be and the twist at the end gives it an extra boost to make it memorable.
There are no bonus features on this DVD.
The Bottom Line:
Despite being a straight to video film, Cypher is an entertaining low-budget sci fi / spy thriller. The twist at the end makes it a little more unique than other movies in its genre.