What a ride! Dark City is like a glorious pastiche of sci-fi; the production design is Blade Runner if it was set in Adelaide, the villains are Nosferatu goth boy band wannabees and the hero is a 90s Humphrey Bogart if he wandered into The Matrix.
The story is essentially simple but tricked up with complexity by playing with notions of memory and reality. John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes in a bleak, hotel bathroom with no memory of who he is. He finds a dead woman in the bedroom and a phone call from an anonymous Kiefer Sutherland, as Dr Schreber, tells him to flee. He is in a city where it is always night and at midnight, everyone but him falls asleep as the buildings and the world around are ‘tuned’.
The villains are the Strangers, a gang of alien Nosferatus whose bald heads and expressionless faces hide a bevy of well-known actors. I spotted Flacco (Paul Livingston), Faramir (David Wenham), the Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence) and Mr Warrenn (Ian Ricjardson). Their menace is channelled deliciously through Mr Hand (Richard O’Brien) who brings the acerbic wit of Riff Raff to create an evil villain you can’t help but like.
The production design is effective in a sometimes clunky CGI way and Rufus does his best at an heroic everyman who suddenly discovers he is powerful. The female characters are woeful; a clutch of dead prostitutes and a saintly wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly) who gets to do very little other than to make the hero look heroic. The ending is preposterously lengthy and cheesy and, with the accents, belies the films attempts to appeal to a mainstream US audience.
Regardless of all that, this is so worth watching, just don’t take it too seriously.
Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.