The fashion to confuse eventually outsmarts itself and becomes incomprehensible. David Lynch (Inland Empire) knows all about this and yet remains sexy amongst art cinema groupies. With a mainstream television series there is no excuse. What, you ask yourself, when a dead man comes back to life and the gangly, incompetent hero gets lucky with an apparently grieving foreign doctor (Anamaria Marinca), is going on?

This is The Future, a useful state for storytellers, because they can cheat, in this case with surveillance devices, and blame it on an overactive imagination. Somewhere in the cesspit of rejected plot ideas there is a floater, which has been scooped up, dressed down and resubmitted. Bingo! The sheer weight of conspiracy theories and national paranoia is enough to trigger the green light. How cool is this? Corrupt government, compromised by a sophisticated, amoral, deadly security organisation, answerable to no one, is sidelined when a body tagging experiment goes fatally wrong and a killer virus is let loose amongst a group of illegal immigrants in what was once London.

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Into this miasmic mess of muddled make-believe stumbles mathematician Stephen Ezard (Benedict Cumberbatch), surely the most inept protagonist ever invented, whose body language could only be appreciated by The Drones Club. Returning from abroad for his half brother’s funeral, he is not fully aware of the new anti-terrorist laws that curb freedom of movement, heralding Orwell’s 1984, despite the year being two thousand and something-larger-than-nine.

Watching, lurking, plotting, controlling and generally interfering is Barbara Turney (Geraldine James), MIPick-A-Number’s bossette, Patrick Nye (David Harewood), a hardcore security spook, and George Gibbon (Christopher Fulford), a manic depressive MP. There is also the Home Secretary (Eva Birthistle), an attractive blonde from Northern Ireland, who once lived with Stephen – that’s stretching credulity beyond snapping point – who is involved with Barbara’s intricate cover-ups, although not calling the shots. In fact, what is she calling? It’s difficult to tell. Out in left field is Russell (Robert Carlyle), a permanently grizzled mystery man, not unlike Gene Hackman’s character in Enemy Of The State, who is adept at everything from bugging devices to cold blooded murder.

The central theme of containing a deadly virus is mixed in with futuristic Big Brother shenanigans, designed to track everyone’s movements, and a barely credible love story that does nothing but clog up the thriller’s wheels. Cliches abound – there’s even an underclass living in shanty shelters that disrupt the system – and characters painted by numbers. Marinca acts her socks off, but she might as well be doing it against a green screen. Her costars are less convincing than Sully and Mike in Monsters Inc.

Reviewed on: 21 Mar 2008
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The Last Enemy packshot
A futuristic security force attempts to contain and cover up a man-made deadly virus.
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Director: Iain B MacDonald

Writer: Peter Berry

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Anamaria Marinca, Robert Carlyle, Max Beesley, Geraldine James, Eva Birthistle, David Harewood, Christopher Fulford, David Calder

Year: 2008

Runtime: 309 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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