The gentle preliminary curiosity stirred by Zoom-shot films died shortly, as a result of so few of them had been watchable, and since filmmakers shortly discovered workarounds to create extra fluid entertainments whereas nonetheless observing COVID precautionary measures. Thus “Zero Contact” arrives as a novelty that’s already greater than worn out its welcome, aiming for doubtful extra distinction as “the world’s first star-powered function movie NFT.” (It was launched in that kind final September — whether or not anybody really bought it as such is unknown.)
We’ll simply gingerly step round that factoid, because the aptly named “Zero Contact” has loads of extra tangible methods during which it’s a steaming pile of nada. Producer turned first-time director Rick Dugdale and screenwriter Cam Cannon’s would-be thriller has 5 globally-scattered protagonists yelling at their screens throughout a convention name during which the destiny of all humanity supposedly hangs within the steadiness from some murky high-tech menace.
All telling, no exhibiting, the tediously convoluted opener for a deliberate trilogy is by no means brightened by intermittent appearances from Anthony Hopkins, the principal “star energy” right here. It’s laborious to consider any viewers will return for 2 (presumably non-Zoom) in-progress sequels as soon as they’ve waded by way of this Lionsgate launch.
Opening fictitious information footage encapsulates the profession of Finley Hart (Hopkins), “enigmatic” genius behind an Apple-like tech empire he was ultimately ousted from. Already widowed, he then purportedly died of kidney failure, orphaning a now-adult son (Chris Brochu as Sam) he just about ignored whereas alive.
Thus the junior Hart, caring for a child at residence whereas his spouse is out of city, shouldn’t be significantly happy when a mysterious package deal supply prompts a web based meetup with 4 different individuals at present or previously tied to Hart Enterprises: Snarky tech chief Trevor Williams (Aleks Paunovic) in Seattle; humorless German authorized rep Veronica Schultz (Veronica Ferres); Japanese “chief innovation officer” Riku Matsuda (TJ Kayama) in Japan; and board of administrators chair Hakan Nordquist (Martin Stenmarck) in Sweden.
They’ve been known as upon so as to reactivate the Quantinuum Initiative, some type of machine primarily based on Finley’s “singular reality” discovery that was apparently shut down by his foes inside the firm. Simply what it’s or does we by no means fairly determine, although phrases like “alien know-how,” “AI,” “teleportation” and “resetting the space-time continuum” get tossed round. It’s also stated that if it’s not reactivated pronto, “a globe-killing catastrophe occasion” will ensue.
Effectively, that definitely sounds momentous. Not sufficient so, nonetheless, to successfully distract us from being caught with 5 quarrelsome strangers on a Zoom name. Quickly one in all them is lifeless, whereas the others undergo residence invasions and different threats from the undertaking’s shadowy enemies. To the extent that we see these items occur, we do as a result of the protagonists carry round their units to movie themselves, for no apparent cause. Or maybe (as onscreen graphics recommend), these units are filming them with out their information. None of which makes “Zero Contact” any much less a film a few bunch of individuals speaking conspiratorial nonsense whereas appearing very laborious at showing frightened.
Evidently, that locations the performers in a bind, having to run gamuts of pressing emotion in a static contextual vacuum. They (additionally together with some subsidiary figures, together with spouses) cope variably nicely below the circumstances. Arguably the worst exhibiting is by Sir Anthony, whose arbitrarily scattered interview flashbacks and video messages have him delivering improvisational-sounding gobbledygook with the twinkle-eyed self-indulgence of a veteran performer sure his each tic and utterance will delight. It’s a very awkward assumption to be so incorrect about.
“Contact” means to arrange an epic, globetrotting puzzle combining components of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Matrix,” coincidentally additionally each trilogies. However there isn’t a second right here that doesn’t scream “COVID-necessitated contrivance,” or takes on a convincing narrative lifetime of its personal. Whereas some thought went into manufacturing designer Tink’s settings, the notion that this movie was shot in 17 nations performs as a nugatory gimmick, since we’re virtually totally trapped in rooms with characters’ laptops and telephones. Klas Wahl and Anders Niska’s largely digital rating tries to whip up excessive rigidity round onscreen occasions that stubbornly refuse to turn out to be thrilling within the least.
And simply once you assume this nothing-burger can’t get any extra exasperating, it spends a full 10 post-fadeout minutes on ultimate credit. Oh, there’s extra: As names crawl by, we are supposed to be impressed by behind-the-scenes footage exhibiting solid and crew applauding each other’s wizardry in making a Zoom film. It’s sufficient to make you nostalgic for the less complicated instances of watching paint dry.
“Zero Contact” opens Might 27 in 13 U.S. theaters, simultaneous with digital and on demand launch.