Netflix has been on fire lately, pumping out hit after hit, as the streaming service in the latter stages of 2021 dropped a multitude of series and movies. As we enter into 2022, though, you might be looking for your next Netflix original movie to watch, and you may have come across Zone 414. I’m going to be honest with you upfront; keep on looking because this one will have you wishing for your time back.
Directed by Andrew Baird, written by Bryan Edward Hill, starring Guy Pearce, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Jonathan Aris, and Travis Fimmel. Zone 414 takes place in a future where not only does synthetic life exist, but it’s a booming multi-million dollar business. The head of this empire Marlon Veidt (Fimmel), has problems that extend beyond his machines. When his daughter goes missing in Zone 414, he will pay handsomely to have her returned. Enter private detective David Carmichael (Pearce). But what Carmichael finds within the zone might be more than he bargains for.
So immediately, this dystopian future where synthetic life walks among us will draw so many vastly popular references such as Westworld, Blade Runner, and iRobot to name but a few. Sadly Zone 414 really doesn’t stack up even close to any of these. The film has an incredibly slow pace as it strives to create a moody and lasting tension. You can even recognize the attempt at the noir tones as in a world that no longer needs human interaction with robotic life filling those wants and desires, and a disgruntled ex-marine and disgraced police detective now picks up the morally ambiguous jobs that no one else wants.
It’s just cliché, on top of cliché. For what it’s worth, I’m not even bashing the use of commonly used storytelling methods, because if done right I’m a sucker for this kind of genre. The foundation and synopsis of Zone 414 had me thinking this was absolutely something I’d enjoy. The reality of what was delivered however was underwhelming.
The film spends so much time trying to mimic films like Blade Runner that it forgets to tell its story. As mentioned previously, the pace is painfully slow, and at first, it’s forgivable as it tries to build tension, but what’s frustrating is there’s no real payoff. Even to the very end with the dramatic reveal, there’s no real wow factor, because the film never cements the stakes to the audience, or delivers any moments of true horror, or even creates a sense of fear.
This is where I find that this story struggles, as it is so out of balance between wanting these long sullen silences with dramatic tension building music, and dialogue dumps for exposition, but even then those moments are so thin.
It’s a shame as well because the foundation of the plot sounds great, but Baird never really found a way to truly flesh it out, and as such it leaves you with a sense that the story is just a poor knockoff. Added on to the fact that there are periods where there are some enjoyable and very weird eye-catching performances. Fimmel for example is almost unrecognizable beneath his prosthetic makeup and really gets into his role. Lutz gives one of the better performances and has a decent chunk of screen time, and with what she had to work with she delivers the goods. I just wish she had a better story to work with her, or was trusted with more depth to her character.
It’s hard to watch Zone 414 without being reminded that are so many other better options for dystopian sci-fi films that create far more deep and engaging stories. The dialogue is thin, the pace is dreadfully slow, and ultimately it just results in a very subpar viewing. While the cast is solid, there’s not enough room for the performances to land as the story is never expanded enough for the audience to engage with. In the end, this film just doesn’t warrant watching.
Zone 414 is available now exclusively on Netflix.
It’s hard to watch Zone 414 without being reminded that are so many other better options for dystopian sci-fi films that create far more depth and engaging stories. The dialogue is thin, the pace is dreadfully slow, and ultimately it just results in a very subpar viewing. While the cast is solid, there’s not enough room for the performances to land as the story is never expanded enough for the audience to engage with. In the end this film just doesn’t warrant watching.