The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Anti Matter

Anti Matter wants to be one of those hypnotically mind-bending thrillers like Inception, Interstellar, or Moon. The film has the potential to be captivating, except that it throws one twist on top of another until all you're left with is a huge pile of them. The human element that (often subtly) makes these stories work is sorely missing. In the end, Anti Matter feels like an exercise in trying to be clever, rather than a well thought-out tale.

Ana (Yaiza Figueroa) is an Oxford PhD student who discovers a way to bend time and space, sending objects through a wormhole and having them land nearby. Together with two assistants, Nate (Tom Barber-Duffy) and Liv (Philippa Carson), she tests this revelation out with marbles, a Rubik's Cube, and even a cat. Then, of course, there's the cliched “crunch” in which things have to be tested quickly, leading Ana to make herself a human guinea pig. After being transported a few feet, she finds bizarre changes. Weird dreams and memory lapses plague her, plus Nate and Liv act strangely toward her.

There's a lot going on in Anti Matter, including subplots about a government agent looking into the team's illegal computer use, Ana's relationship with her mother, and a monkey-masked animal rights activist who stalks her. Trying to cram so much plot into one movie only succeeds in making it feel dragged out. A sci-fi thriller of this sort needs to move like a bullet. Anti Matter has so much business to take care of that 109 minutes feel substantially longer. Some judicious editing would have solved that particular problem.

Basic elements aren't much more successful. The dialogue alternates from being peppered with complex scientific jargon – which is extremely difficult to parse meaning from unless you're a science whiz – to being stilted and on-the-nose. Characterization, meanwhile, is minimal. Anti Matter is so busy trying to dazzle you with its pretzel-like structure that it doesn't give the humans more than one dimension.

Director Keir Burrows, admittedly getting good production value from a low budget, tries to gussy things up in spots by conveying Ana's anguish via near-subliminal editing and strobing visuals. Again, though, such elements only serve to elongate a story that's already overstuffed.

The weakest part of Anti Matter, unexpectedly, is its ending. For starters, the requisite “surprise” is pretty easy to figure out in advance. (I had it half an hour in.) That significantly blunts the impact of its reveal. Making matters worse, the movie explains the twist during the finale, then just keeps on explaining it long after you get the point. It's like everything is happening in slow motion. A viewer could easily become impatient with the unnecessary prolonging of something that's already been made clear.

On the plus side, Figueroa gives a respectable performance in spite of a couple unconvincing, out-of-nowhere action sequences and awkward scenes like the one where Ana stops a stranger in a library to converse about whether human memory has mass. (The clues in this movie might as well be neon signs.) Credit should also be given for at least trying to cerebral – a quality deserving of praise no matter the outcome.

Anti Matter is otherwise a film with way too much going on at too sluggish a pace. The desire to mess with the audience's collective head ends up yielding far more frustration than awe.

( 1/2 out of four)

Anti Matter is unrated, but contains language, sexuality, and some violence. The running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.

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