Brandon Cronenberg hit the big screen a few years back with Anti-Viral, an idiosyncratic take on the kind of stuff his father did in the 70’s and 80’s but with Possessor he’s merging the visceral work which runs in the family with a plot which on the surface is a hell of a lot more marketable which makes for a film which seems to sit between two stools and doesn’t quite add up.
The intriguing set up sees Andrea Riseborough working for a shady corporation which carries out assassinations by taking over peoples bodies but whom seems to be losing her own sense of self due to the work. Who wouldn’t want to see that? Shall we add Sean Bean as her next target? Go on then! Its a bit of a shame then that the film is never as fun as you hope its going to be, its cyberpunk sounding set up instead is enveloped in a world which feels relatively normal. Despite the hard sci-fi concept, the world itself seems much like our own and one wonders what the film could have done with a higher budget.
Instead then, we are treated to the story playing out with increasingly surreal moments of Riseborough’s Tasya starting to lose control of her latest avatar while she tries to murder Sean Bean’s target who seems to have a price on his head because he’s a dickhead more than for any reason the film wants to tell us.The narrative takes quite a long time to go anywhere but when it does, Cronenberg’s able to illicit a fair few “blimey charlies” from you during this time despite the image the marketing is leaning on being used quite a few times which very much lessens its impact as it goes on.
What the film is actually bothered about wouldn’t be out of place in your average episode of Black Mirror. The idea of technology making you lose your sense of self isn’t exactly new and the revelations the film has seems to increasingly fall back on trying to illicit cheap emotion, one moment at the end really serving no purpose other than to do so and it feels disappointingly cheap as a result.
Possessor is a bit of a disappointment, a film which meanders to the point and chucks in some messed up images to keep the attention. Go watch Total Recall instead.