Sunday, June 05, 2016

DWF ’16: Virtual Revolution

As speculative futuristic technology goes, the world of New Paris 2047 practically looks dated. However, the sociological and ideological repercussions are incredibly timely. Seventy-five percent of the population willingly spends their entire conscious lives within the VR game world of their choice. That certainly makes it easier for the government and a few tech corporations to maintain a firm grip on power in the really real “Living” world. Nash does their dirty work, but he starts to have second thoughts in screenwriter-director Guy-Roger Duvert’s Virtual Revolution (trailer here), which world premiered at the 2016 Dances with Films.

Nash is a so-called “hybrid,” who splits his time between the conspicuously Blade Runner-looking real world and an epic fantasy game world, where he is known as his more handsome avatar, Swal. From time to time, he takes assignments from a shadowy gaming firm, usually targeting threats to its virtual platforms. They literally pay him bounties on his kills, because the real world is so de-populated, there really isn’t anyone left to care.

However, a new cell of anti-Connected radicals has been particularly effective at disrupting game-play. The firm has covered-up the resulting deaths thus far, but the rebels seem to be planning something bigger. Nash will target the conspirators in the real world, but some of his encounters will cause him to question many of the decisions he has made.

Granted, we have seen a lot of this before, going back to the old school Tron. However, Duvert takes the social ramifications even further, to their fullest credible extent. He posits a corrupt insular system, where the Connected’s government welfare payments go directly to the corporations to pay their fees. No Obamacare for the Connected. They live it up in the Connected world, while their bodies atrophy, resulting in a life expectancy in the mere forties. At least they have traded their freedom for cool experiences. In our world, there are plenty of people willing to give away their freedom for a mediocre health insurance plan and a few transfer payments.

Mike Dopud has the right look and presence for Nash—rugged and manly, but maybe not quite in perfect shape. Maximilien Poullein plays off him well as Morel, one of his necessarily few Living associates, who conveniently happens to be a talented hacker. Petra Silander certainly has a heck of an entrance portraying the seductive warrior avatar Nash hijacks (much to his surprise). Jane Badler, fondly remembered as Diana in the original V mini-series, gives the film further fan cred with her brief appearances as Nash’s shadowy client. Zoe Corraface (daughter of Greek actor George) is also memorable as the fantasy avatar Nash has a virtual something going on with in their fantasy game world.

Frankly, the entire international polyglot cast is pretty good, whether Living or Connected. Of course, there probably shouldn’t be so many flying cars whizzing about in the Living cyberpunk world, but that is a minor bit of pedantry. Duvert asks some pertinent questions about what will pass for the human condition and offers some unsettling answers. Recommended for free-thinking science fiction fans, Virtual Revolution ought to find an appreciative audience (perhaps online) following its world premiere at this year’s Dances with Films, in Hollywood, USA.