Thieves is exemplary. And problematic. A cyberpunk short film focusing on an interrogation gone completely amok, it’s both great for its writing/background story and how J.G. Barnes and his crew tries to deliver the best out of a $300 budget and a crew of amateurs. At the same time – its obvious shortcomings are needlessly emphasized by its promo campaign and its unintelligible intensity. Still, as I said, good writing. Verdict? 4/10.
Shot in two nights on a shoestring budget of $300, this very amateur film is set in the near future world of New Detroit, a city once ravaged by rampant crime and architectural decay is being revitalized through Butterfly, an agency who recruits the most talented and brilliant minds to apply their greatest ideas to enhancing every facet of daily life.
However, some of these recruits have gone missing.
This has inspired the formation of a terrorist group who believe Butterfly aren’t the saviors they seem to be. The most notorious and elusive of these terrorists has just been cornered in a forgotten part of the city who has the key to saving millions of lives or a tool of ultimate vanity. A nice long chat between an ice cold cybernetic agent and this spitfire terrorist will determine who truly has the rights to this tool and how it will be applied — but what exactly is it?
Brainwashing and ID transfer in the comfortable dichotomy of us versus them. Story doesn’t feel like a short film story, more like a segment from a series pilot. Obvious background references without alienating viewers. Female lead (Agent Janice Monroe, played by Kelly Kirstein) looks good but overacts her parts and has no stage presence apart from her obvious sex appeal, male lead (Jason Arthur, played by Sheldon Simmons) looks good but doesn’t act his part well. Which is a shame – the potential is there. Characters well-shaped, though. Extractor character (Didrik Davis) completely needless, chips off focus from lead characters, adds nothing in return. (Prof Vanderhoff’s actor Lauren Kole is another actor who needs. more. experience. and. routine.) Setting questionable – should be an interrogation scene to extract information from male lead, instead it turns into a string of half-philosophical ripostes. Ideas good. The use of different typefonts and their coloring for the CCTV shots and the creds rolling part (with the grindcore outro) is simply a proof of experimental bravado turned into bad taste. And as for the wrapping paper of promotional materials – when you join the race, let your product sell itself by its own merits. A loud fanfare takes away credibility. Still, wishing all the best for Zenisphere and all related parties – your world looks intriguing!