My notes on the techno stalker thriller.
A by-the-numbers stalker film (basically, it’s the IT Guy From Hell variant on The Hand That Rocks the Cradle) which talks cutting edge tech but defaults to plot licks that were old hat in the Cape Fear remake a generation ago.
Aviation tycoon Mike Regan (Pierce Brosnan, using his natural Irish accent for once) unwisely lets IT temp Ed Porter (James Frecheville) rewire his home system before he notices how creepy the guy is. When Ed keeps coming on to Mike’s daughter Kaitlyn (Stefanie Scott), Mike fires him and he sits in his man-cave ogling via hidden cameras, reprogramming the smart house, unethically turning on the sprinklers and the coffee-maker, sending Mrs Mike (Anna Friel, wasted) an email suggesting her breast cancer scan is bad news, emailing a video clip of Kaitlyn masturbating in the shower to her whole school, meddling in the business so it seems like Mike has committed multiple infractions on a big government deal and generally being a dick.
As often (cf: Ransom), the stalkee is initially unlikeable – Mike is high-handed even before he turns against his trusty minion – but here that doesn’t change when he’s under pressure, since he consistently puts his wife and daughter in danger by making bad decisions … and opting to commit a crucial b&e himself rather than hiring someone to do it is movie star logic of the worst kind. Michael Nyqvist shows up in a hat as a shadowy tech expert who helps Mike fight back, and gives a few editorial lectures about how vulnerable all this tech is but there’s also a sense that writers Dan Kay (Pay the Ghost) and William Wisher (Terminator 2) aren’t that up to the minute the way the team behind Nerve or Unfriended are. When the creep reaches out to Kaitlyn with a Facebook friend request, it seems almost quaint – and there’s no sense of how fast social media moves or even anything new with cyberterrorism (Ed threatens to drop planes out of the sky but we don’t get there). Also as usual, the menace works better than when it turns into psycho violence – with a climactic home invasion that boils down to ex-Bond Brosnan beating up on the buff nerd, who is your regulation social outcast turned predator.
Directed by John Moore, who served his time with remakes (The Omen, Flight of the Phoenix), franchise entries (Max Payne, A Good Day to Die Hard) but seems not to have cracked the A-list and slipped to this barely-a-step-up-from-VOD thriller.
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