The Movie Waffler New Release Review - RESTORE POINT | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - RESTORE POINT

Restore Point review
In 2041, a detective investigates a couple's murder when new technology allows one of the victims to return from the dead.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Robert Hloz

Starring: Andrea Mohylová, Matěj Hádek, Václav Neužil, Milan Ondrík, Karel Dobrý

Restore Point poster

Who of us has not experienced that singularly shameful phenomenon of being asked, upon the inevitable death of an ageing laptop, by a smugly chastising mate who is good-with-IT, the damning question, "When did you last back it up?" "Christ knows," you answer, as your pal gleefully preps a well-worn riposte shaming the poor frequency of your reduplication practice. Whatever, nerd! I'm too busy going to discos and hanging out with hip people to bother with square pursuits like backing up Word documents! But what if my, or your (because I know you're too cool, too), life depended on it? What if you were backing up YOUR ACTUAL LIFE?!

Restore Point review

This is the zippy premise of Robert Hloz's (writing duties shared with Tomislav Cecka and Zdenek Jecelin) Restore Point, an enjoyable Czech sci-fi thriller built around the gimmick of a "restore point": wherein humans who have "died unnaturally" can be brought back to life via a backup of their character self-created within the last 48 hours - "cell alignment" being the reason for such narrative urgency (starting this review I checked when my last laptop back up - all my wonderful musings on film, etc - was: September 2023! I'd be fucked).

The familiarly Dickian concept is one which readily lends itself to malfeasance and conspiracy. The institution which administers the restore point service is in thrall to corporate interests, there is an activist group - River of Life - who are against the procedure, and a key architect of the radical process, David Kurl (Matěj Hádek), is discovered murdered to death along with his wife... with their most recent restore points erased from the universal hard drive. Cue Detective Em Trochinowska (Andrea Mohylová - European variant of Scarlett Johansson), a cop driven, along with a shoddily backed up David (pushing past the 48 hour limit with unaligned cells), to unpick this particular chronology of a murder...

Restore Point review

Part of the fun of Restore Point is how cheerfully derivative it is. The obvious reference points are Blade Runner and Minority Report, with Stanislav Adam, Anton Evdoshenko AND Filip Marek's cinematography (IMDB credits all three, fair play for such a visually pleasing film) replicating the latter film's modernist olive palette (Philip K. Dick is perhaps the writer whose work is most literally "adapted" for cinema, with movie versions often eschewing the mindfuck psychedelia and sly humour of the novels: true to form, Restore Point is a further dilution). Em is cast in the Clarice Starling mold; a lone, striking female detective who not only labours under a cartoony police patriarchy, but has a customary habit of entering foreboding houses alone. David's predicament - solving his own murder against the clock - is a noirish conceit.

Nonetheless, the other, more distinct, pleasure of Restore Point is how good looking it all is. In tighter shots, the cast are sleekly dressed in designs which give just the right feel of futurism (courtesy of Ivan Stekla's costumes), while in wider indexical frames Hloz pores over the looming curves of a high-rise city where the gleamingly advanced CGI geometries co-exist with preceding architecture (an importantly convincing detail which most films of this ilk overlook). As Restore Point dashes through dynamic, deeply coloured set pieces - in the thickening of the plot we move from artificial urban fronts to the earthy honesty of forests and mud - it is never less than gorgeous to look at.

Restore Point review

The problem with Restore Point is that, aside from some last act rug-pullery, the concept of restore points, of safety lifelines, is not fully surveyed in ways which would consolidate the film. We may politely overlook that the specifics of the method are not expounded (who decides what is natural or otherwise, etc), but what about the wider effects of this revolutionary process? Would society as a whole be less risk averse, for example? It is a missed opportunity that these compelling ideas are not touched upon, as without such thematic exploration Restore Point reduces to a chase film with fun science fiction polishes. Fast paced, sincere and sumptuous, Restore Point is an entertaining watch, albeit one which doesn't back up its own intriguing premise.

Restore Point is on UK/ROI VOD from April 1st.

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