I've found a lot of oddball, offbeat, independent, and small budget films via Netflix's More Like feature (that little box that pops up with recommendations when you add a movie to your queue). Cypher is one of those films. Cypher is a Canadian thriller with a sci-fi slant that saw a limited release in 2005, but won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Fantasporo Film Festival. It stars Lucy Liu and Jeremy Northam.
Jeremy Northam (of whom I'd never heard) plays the role of a thirty something man who is bored with his life and looking for a change. The film begins as Northam's character, Morgan Sullivan, enters the offices of Digicorp, a powerful, multinational corporation, to interview for a job as a corporate spy. Sullivan is given a battery of tests by Digicorp's security staff, and finds himself hooked up to a variety of high tech machines, leads dangling from his head. Eventually, though, he is given a new identity and turned loose as a corporate spy for Digicorp. Sullivan quickly finds out that his assignment as a spy is not quite so glamorous as he expected it to be. And after a few trips to corporate sponsored trade shows he begins to have terrible head aches, and strange flashbacks of a life that seems to be someone else's.
Lucy Liu plays the mystery woman/pseudo-love interest who gives Sullivan/Thursby a bottle of red pills to help with his headaches. But she never quite explains her role in the grand scheme of things and Sullivan/Thursby becomes unsure of whether he can trust her. Until, at another convention, she "opens" his eyes to what has really happened to him. And the rest, dear readers, you'll have to discover for yourself.
Cypher sells itself well as being a skewed and not-too-distant future representation of our world and what it could become. It's cynical and clever, but it isn't everything that it seems to be. I did see the ending coming, but some of you may be surprised. Cypher is worth a rent, but I don't think I'd buy it. The effects and production values are a bit less than what you'd get with a Hollywood budget, but this is an indie film after all. The actors are all very well cast and handle their roles well, and the story is engaging.
Cypher is sort of a noir-like caper. A whodunit of sci-fi films. It may require a few more brain cells than Alvin and the Chipmonks 2: The Squekquel, but I think it'll be worth your time.