Restore Point Review: Impressive Czech cyber punk noir thriller - SciFiNow

Restore Point Review: Impressive Czech cyber punk noir thriller

Restore Point imagines a world where you can respawn in real life. Our review…

Robert Hloz’ debut film, Restore Point, touting itself as the first sci-fi film to come out of the Czech Republic for 40 years unfortunately comes neatly on the tails of the almost-Czech Adam Sandler Netflix movie Spaceman (despite having been filmed last year, it’s only now getting its UK release). Not that it matters. Both are excellent movies.

Set in 2041, the plot of Restore Point follows bereaved Detective Em Trochinowska (Andrea Mohylová) as she investigates the absolute murder of a tech couple. ‘Absolute’ because in Restore Point, if you die, your body and memories can be regenerated from your last ‘backup’, and much like respawning in a video game, things only get tricky if you forget to save your progress. Which for the deceased couple, who have let their checkpoint expire, means they really are dead.

The situation gets more complicated for Detective Trachinowska when she realises that the deceased couple were pioneers at the Institute of Restoration and their murder seems linked to the morally outraged terrorist group ‘River of Life’, the same group who absolutely murdered her own husband. As she navigates the cyberpunk future of Prague, Em starts to uncover a deeper conspiracy. The Restore Point Technology is government-owned and free to all, but with the Institute of Restoration preparing to launch instantaneous backups, there is a risk of privatisation and where there’s money, there’s murder.

Andrea Mohylová’s performance as the hardened maverick cop Em is a sobering emotional anchor and manages to eschew the stereotypical Scandi-noir female detective, presenting as a fully rounded character rather than caricature, arresting the screen with her stoicism.

With just a $2 million budget, the film looks incredible, with a deeply textured landscape that will immediately invoke comparisons to Blade Runner. But this is an unashamedly Czech movie, its use of Eastern European architecture means you can never mistake the retro-futurist landscapes for a high-tech New York. The production design team have also doubled down on the idea of how tech would develop outside of the West, with a focus on modern day technology being upcycled to meet the future. Beaten-up Skodas are retrofitted with electric motors and the backup devices are oddly reminiscent of a 90s Walkman.

The decision to set the movie in the relatively near future marks the movie as a harbinger of the potential dangers of our current obsession with tech development in the world of AI and bioscience. It draws uncomfortable comparisons with the present day, with hints at the power of tech giants, while its core story focusing on a cop uncovering crimes and conspiracies adds to the similarities with the pre-crime caper, Minority Report.

Restore Point will always struggle with an element of imposter syndrome. Its characters, narrative and setting have all been seen before, but there’s a relatively fresh concept at its heart which helps to make it something altogether more engaging as a cyber-noir thriller. It deserves to be seen.

Restore Point is available to download from 1st April