Sometime in the very near future, prisons have become online portals where paying subscribers vote on what felons eat, watch, wear and who they fight. This is Panopticon TV and it’s so successful that it’s about to become a franchise. However, the most downloaded felon — pretty much a rock star — has escaped and the authorities want to bring him back in. And they’re willing to do anything it takes, even arrest his little brother.
Director S.A. Halewood is determined to get the most out of her low budget, but so much of this movie feels like another I’ve seen before, whether those movies are The Running Man, Gamer or District 9. There’s also a moment where someone is smoking and a drone says, “Smoking is not permitted in the street. You have ten seconds…” and I was waiting for it to end with “to comply” to finish this riff on Demolition Man.
Nielsen (Alison Doody from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) leads Panopticon and she’s aided and abetted by Premier Lyndon, the COO of Central Control and pretty much the world leader. He’s played by Linus Roache who was such a great bad guy in Mandy. Clarke Peters is also pretty decent as a tech guru who removes our hero’s double neck implants, showing off his acting chops from Treme and The Wire.
They got to battle with hackers and influencers and people spouting all manner of technobabble through the streets of Detroit, which obviously RoboCop will forever be right about, even if so much of it was shot in Pittsburgh.
There are some big ideas here. The story may suffer and it may feel like movies that came before, but it certainly looks nice in parts. It’s a great start, really. Hopefully, things get better from this crew of filmmakers from here.
Starting April 5, you can see Division 19 On Demand and also on the big screen in the following cities:
LA: Laemmle Music Hall
Chicago: AMC South Barrington 24
Atlanta: AMC Southlake Pavilion 24
Dallas: AMC Grapevine Mills 30
Houston: AMC Gulf Pointe 30
Cleveland: Tower City Cinemas
San Francisco: AMC Deer Valley Stadium 16
Philadelphia: PFS Roxy Theater
Phoenix: AMC Arizona Center 24
Detroit: AMC Fairlane 21
Or you can see if it’s playing near you here.
DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by its PR firm, but that doesn’t impact our review.