There’s a scene in Dark City where the protagonist, John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) and Henry Bumstead (William Hurt) take an axe and start hitting a brick wall. This is a symbolic scene. Why? Because the lab rats are getting out. The revelation in this scene is so shocking that it blew my mind away. I never ever expected what I saw. And that’s why Dark City is an excellent movie. It’s a bit underplayed and technically low in some scenes, but that’s the effect director Alex Proyas wants because of the premise of this sci-fi movie.
Dark City is a tough film to give a synopsis about because too many spoilers could be given out. It starts with John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) waking up in a hotel room he doesn’t remember being in and sees a naked dead body of a lady he doesn’t remember seeing or killing. He grabs whatever he has in the room and runs out. Murdoch then tries to find out who he is by contacting people he’s supposed to know: his wife, Emma (Jennifer Connelly) and his doctor (Kiefer Sutherland) who is the key to the story. Mean while, Inspector Bumstead (William Hurt) is on the trail of Murdoch and suspects him of being the murderer of the recent serial killings. But then the whole plot turns in right angles with the appearance of the Strangers. And it’s always dark here…
Alex Proyas’ story is so creative that nothing like it has been seen before. Every single line of dialog adds to this enigmatic story. Each line of dialog is a clue i.e ‘Where is Shell Beach?’. The whole story takes sci-fi to different places. The ending of the movie is so uplifting as compared to its starting. The star of this movie is the screenplay.
The cast of this movie delivers “interesting” performances, especially Kiefer Sutherland and Richard O’ Brien. Rufus Sewell does a good job as the confused John Murdoch searching for the truth and his transformation in the climax is definitely not a cliche. That transformation makes things click. Jennifer Connelly’s performance has nothing to talk about, because she changes personalities near the end (spoiler!). Kiefer Sutherland definitely steals a part of this movie because he is a key character in this movie, and his performace raises questions about Daniel P. Schreber early in the film. Richard O’ Brien as Mr. Hand also has a performance that is wacky. William Hurt also has a solid supporting performance as the “blind” Inspector whose eyes are open to the truth.
Alex Proyas joins the ranks of great sci-fi directors who can narrate a great tale. His style in this movie is not slow, yet it paces at a speed that introduces each clue sequentially. Proyas also writes setpieces that increase the speed or dramatic scenes that slow it down a bit. In sci-fi, that’s what you need. I saw the director’s cut and the theatrical cut and realized that the director’s cut made the movie all the more better because it cut out the unnecessary clues and introduced new sub-plots. So…when you see this movie, watch the director’s cut. Proyas also uses a lot of symbolism: the dark and the light, the spiral, the beach and the syringe. The music in this movie is limited but when it does play, it heightens the tension. The colors in this movie are always black, brown and red…until the end. These colors maintain the tone of the movie: dark. the sets are all from another decade, and there’s an explanation for that in the secret of the movie. These are done well, creates a different atmosphere in the movie. The effects of the movie are not that first-class, but it does the job of transforming words to images and is cool. All these factors in the movie make a collage of sci-fi amazement and Dark City is definitely a must-see movie.