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Nightmare Code: It’s Worse than Windows Vista
What do you get when you combine Big Brother
with the Singularity? A nasty collection of code called ROPER. At least, the
program is hopelessly buggy, or is it? The more he understands the surveillance
and behavioral prediction program, the more uncomfortable Brett Desmond gets.
One way or another, he has some hardcore coding ahead of him in Mark Netter’s Nightmare Code (trailer here), which releases today
Normally, Desmond would not take a gig that
wasn’t certifiably cool, but he is caught between a rock and a hard place. On
his last government job, he had tried to pull a Snowden, but he was caught and
prosecuted. So far, the court rulings have not gone his way, but his new
employers promise to make everything go away if he can get their roll out back
on track. Unfortunately, they were thrown considerably off schedule by the
recent “incident.” That is how they refer to the shooting spree and suicide of
Foster Cotton, the lead software developer.
In contradiction of all the team’s expectations,
ROPER seems to be acting deliberately perverse. Bugs that were presumed fixed
several iterations ago start reappearing. Perhaps most ominously, the program’s
video analysis starts playing back violent events that never happened. Looking
for possible insights, Desmond starts watching Cotton’s journal entries, but
what he sees only prompts more questions, as well as the outlandish suspicion
Cotton may have transferred his consciousness into ROPER.
As Desmond, The Walking Dead’s Andrew J. West certainly looks like someone who
has spent a great deal of time writing code. Mei Melançon (Psylocke in X-Men: the
Last Stand) is refreshingly smart and down-to-earth as Desmond’s co-worker
and object of adulterous temptation, Nora Huntsman. Alex Cho also perfectly nails
the persona and attitudes of stock-optioned Silicon Valley yuppies, but the
rest of the tech firm personnel are just standard issue geeks or villains.
Code lacks in logic it makes up in paranoia. “You do not find the bug in
the code, the code finds the bug in you,” sounds like a Yakov Smirnov joke, but
it is pretty close to where we are now. Sadly, in commercial terms, it probably
comes too late. With the only presidential candidate committed to curtailing
domestic snooping, Rand Paul, mired at the bottom of the pack, it is pretty clear
the professional activist class no longer cares about privacy. Maybe Code will remind a few viewers of their
forgotten principles, because the implications of ROPER are pretty terrifying.
On the other hand, Code is about as technically sound as Electric Dreams from the mid-1980s. Seriously, usually one outbreak
of mass murder is sufficient to delay a product launch. When the freaky mishaps
keep on coming, you have to wonder why anyone still works for this company. On
the other hand, Netter’s visual style, especially his use of split screens,
nicely reflects Desmond’s increasingly disoriented and distrustful state of
takes a shot at turning the NSA’s PRISM system into a horror movie bogeyman.
The results are mixed, but provocative. Recommended for lapsed civil
libertarians in need of a cerebral scare, Nightmare
Code releases today (10/27) on DVD.
Labels: Cyber Thrillers, DVD