Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jerry O'Connell, Cameron Scoggins, Morgan Wolk, Bret Lada, Susan S. McGinnis, Aurélia Thiérrée, Jessica Blank, Matt Salinger, Nicole Shalhoub, Brandon Alan Smith, Morgan Wolk
Written by: Jay Craven
Directed by: Jay Craven
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 105
Date: 12/11/2020

Wetware (2020)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Mungo Wary

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A cold, inert, misguided science fiction story, Wetware starts with a peculiar idea that never takes hold, and then the movie never really moves; it's mostly dull talk about the supposed meaning of it all.

It's the near future, and citizens who have nothing left to live for can volunteer to become genetically modified in order to work in tough, dangerous jobs; these people are called "Mungos," and they are generally treated with prejudice. Their designer, Hal Briggs (Cameron Scoggins), has come up with an even more advanced method that could turn people into soldiers and spies.

He has created two prototypes, Jack (Bret Lada) and Kay (Morgan Wolk), but unfortunately, he has developed an attraction to Kay and has modified her program to coax her into loving him back. But before anything can happen, Kay's new programming inspires her and Jack to escape.

There's no discussion or explanation in Wetware as to why anyone would ever volunteer to become a "Mungo," and deliberately leave behind their memories and identities. (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind took a far more beautiful, meaningful deep-dive into this same theme and determined that it's not a good idea.) Then, the so-called spy/love robots are shown to be rather ineffectual, and scenes of fighting and loving are curiously flat.

Even Jerry O'Connell, easily the movie's most recognizable actor, and prominently featured in the advertising, plays nothing more than a banker who spends the entire movie trying to decide on whether or not to buy the new technology; he basically sits and has glum chats with others.

Wetware is also highly indebted to Blade Runner, and pays homage to that film in many ways, from its opening crawl with certain words colored red, to a use of the offensive phrase "skin jobs." But no matter the amount of slowness, attempts at artful lighting, or weird effects like a "snowfall" inside Jack and Kay's chamber, can make it come even close.

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