Writer: Casey ChongWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Enemy of the State” & “Connected”
Touted as the first Chinese movie blockbuster that blends the sci-fi genre to a whole new level, "Control" seems like an interesting change of pace from the usual Chinese-movie genre trappings (e.g. cop, gangster and martial arts). Well, at least judging on the surface level. But dig deeper and it's entirely different story altogether, however, this reviewer doesn't mean it in a good way.
"Control" takes place in the futuristic city which centers around Mark (Daniel Wu), a mild-mannered insurance salesman forced into committing criminal acts by a mysterious caller known only as 'The Voice' through his handphone.
At first glance, Kenneth Bi's first foray into the sci-fi genre looks ambitious enough - a mix of sci-fi noir, gangster, action and 'whodunit' all rolled into one slick package. However, his direction lacks visionary skill required for this kind of movie. Instead of embracing the sci-fi genre which starts promisingly in the opening scene, the rest of the movie is pretty much restricted to a conventional thriller that could have easily taken place in the familiar 21st century setting. Even the action sequences are a major disappointment, which is mostly reduced into typical shootouts.
Meanwhile, Bi's screenplay - adapted from Jack Messitt's original story "Remote Control" - might seem complex, but the execution is average. The best thing that can be said about his lacklustre screenplay is the unexpected, if implausible twist in the finale.
As the lead actor of the movie, Daniel Wu delivers a convincing but unspectacular performance as an everyman forced into unlikely scenarios. Simon Yam's villainous performance is as entertaining as always, but basically it's nothing much to shout about, while Leon Dai is fairly acceptable as Yam's right-hand man. Yao Chen, recently seen in "Firestorm", is wasted here in a thankless performance as Wu's love interest. Finally, there's Kara Hui, who is repeating the same emotionally-unstable mother role previously seen in "Rigor Mortis".
"Control" could have been a potential hit if only Bi was bold enough to stretch his imagination beyond the ordinary. Overall, it's best to keep your expectations low for this one.Cinema Online, 16 December 2013