Narcopolis film review: the future as we know it?

Jonathan Pryce stars in Ballard-inspired future thriller Narcopolis

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20 years into the future, all recreational drugs are legal and mass-produced. Drugs company giant Todd Ambro (James Callis) has the UK eating out of his hand. What could possibly go wrong?

Havoc soon rips through the London underworld as unlicensed drug-pushers start selling stock to vulnerable customers, and they start showing up dead. When a body is discovered with half his head missing, our hero Frank Grieves (Elliot Cowan), a police officer specially assigned to these drug cases, starts to dig into the evidence. Coming up empty, he somewhat unwillingly teams up with mad scientist Sidorov (Jonathan Pryce), and a young woman named Eva Gray (Elodie Yung), who claims she’s not of this time.

Narcopolis looks great. It’s a stylish sci-fi; the cityscapes are gorgeous and the futuristic special effects are top notch. It’s obvious a lot of care, time and creative passion went into it. It’s a relatively low budget project that does a great job pretending it’s not. But behind the aesthetics, there isn’t much else. 

Most mystery movies lay clues out for the viewer. When done right, the clues become a treasure hunt that leaves you bewildered, fascinated and wanting to punch yourself for missing them. But when Narcopolis leaves clues lying around, it also sprinkles them with glitter and sticks giant neon signs in them reading ‘THIS IS A CLUE’.

Furthermore, over-acting, confusing wording and forced accents stick out like sore thumbs in Narcopolis’s understated noir-esque style.