Dark City (1998) – Alex Proyas

As much as I enjoy The Crow, Dark City may be my favourite Proyas films, it combines two of my favourite genres, the film noir and science fiction and delivers something intelligent, engaging, and fantastically put together. And yet, I hadn’t watched this one in forever, but of course, when it was time for a rewatch, I settled in for the Director’s Cut which eschews the opening narration (that gave away way too much of the film) and enjoyed it the way it was intended.

Rufus Sewell plays John Murdoch, a man who has no memory of who he is, and is quite possibly a serial killer. As he tries to figure out who he is, and put his life together, he stalks the streets of a city where its always night, and dreams of a childhood spent in the sun at a place that everyone knows, but no one can remember how to get to… Shell Beach.

He learns he’s married to Emma (Jennifer Connelly), is being hunted by an determined inspector, Bumstead (William Hurt) and a mysterious doctor, Schreber (Kiefer Sutherland) who has some answers for them, even though they are hard to believe it.

And lurking around the city, controlling it, manipulating it, and those who live there are black-suited strangers whose ominous presence is just as troubling as John’s missing memories and the murders that are occurring.

If you haven’t seen it, I don’t want to give much more away than that, and if you do plan on seeing it, make sure you seek out the director’s cut, so each new reveal can be delivered as it should be, not all up front at the beginning of the film, which takes away the impact of the film, and its roots in the film noir genre.

The film featured the debut of Melissa George, and showcases Richard O’Brien, Bruce Spence, and Ian Richardson as three of the dark suited Strangers.

The entire film was shot on sets, which allowed Proyas and the production to control everything, and added to the un-reality of the world in which Murdoch and the rest of the city exist. When the revelations start coming, they do so with full impact, and one that makes the mind real, and think about its implications.

With recurring visual motiffs, as well as solid performances, the film is moody, its darkness almost oppressive, and the Strangers an interesting take (though it isn’t mentioned by name), on the Men In Black legends and myths. There is a lot going on in the film, and the details are all there, layering it all out and rewarding repeated viewings (something I may have to do sooner rather than later).

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