In 2047, three-quarters of the population are ‘connected’ – spending most of their time getting fat in chairs while playing virtual reality adventure games in a variety of ‘verses’ – but a rash of mystery realworld player deaths mean that investigator Nash Trenton (Mike Dopud), on retainer to one of the big corps that own the verses, has to log off his fantasy realm heroics to trudge around rainy, gloomy future Paris to crack a conspiracy that he is eventually tempted to sign up with.
With its Jack Deth-look protagonist and hopping between fantasy worlds (I half-expected the Blade Runnery ‘real’ world to turn out to be just another verse), this has something of the feel of the idea-intensive quickies Charles Band used to produce in the ‘80s (RageWar, etc) but French writer-director Guy-Roger Duvert takes a more plodding, less amusing approach to his on-the-nose scenario. At one point, a sinister Interpol agent (Jochen Hagele) delivers a lengthy monologue explaining the story so far and even Nash has to bring him up for his ‘fantastically long-winded speech’, but he isn’t the only offender. Dina (Jane Badler) sits behind a desk as Nash’s boss and expostulates, and the rebel lead Camille (Kaya Blocksage) is similarly given to talking about what she’s trying to do rather than getting on with it. Worst of all is Nash’s techie Morel (Maximilien Poullein, in an infuriatingly mannered performance) – tied to the hero by a backstory about a lost love killed before the story starts – who gets to natter endlessly in plot-advancing scenes that nevertheless stop the film in its tracks.
Though punctuated by fights and shoot-outs, with the odd dragon and killbot in the verses, the film is addicted to telling rather than showing. We keep being told that the streets are empty thanks to everyone living online (though the sky is full of flying cars which presumably have human drivers) but never get a sense of how the city has emptied out. Only one of the connected types we see is a fat slob guy IRL and a silconised warrior babe (Petra Silander) in his semiporn fantasyland … and he turns out illogically to be part of a conspiracy to overthrow the whole system whose ills he seems to embody. Virtual Revolution does eventually start coming up with neat ideas – especially when the oppressed masses turn out not to want freedom and react with horror and petulant violence when the underground movement tries to take away the population-control device of the verses. But its human stort doesn’t engage – the hero’s dead love interest is even more nebulous than his fantasyquest girlfriend (Zoe Corraface), and too much of it feels like rote lifts from now-backlist cyberpunk items like Blade Runner and The Matrix.