There’s a moment, toward the end of 009 RE: Cyborg, where a character stands atop an atom bomb, flying through space, and shouts at God. It’s bizarre, nonsensical, and typifies the film perfectly. It’s completely and utterly berserk.
Even days after seeing, and having spent several hours reading up on the history of the franchise, it’s sill a struggle to comprehend exactly what this Kenji Kamiyama picture is really all about. The original 1960’s comics centred on the exploits of a group of people kidnapped by the sinister Black Ghost organisation, before being turned into superhuman cyborgs. They then fought for their freedom, and spent the next 50 years battling villains across endless manga, multiple TV series and several movies.
This film decides to throw away the comic book villains in favour of a conspiracy involving Israeli bankers and the US government. And as such plays like a deranged anti-Semitic wet dream, until about half way through, when it completely changes tack, absolves the conspirators of responsibility and decides to, and I kid you not, blame God. For the remainder of its running time the film then oscillates wildly between just about every point on the philosophical and political spectrum, ultimately settling on the idea that God may be a bastard, but he’s only being mean to make you a better person.
The upshot of this is that the film is so full of ideas, many of them utterly repellent, that the story gets somewhat buried under the weight. It’s complicated, confusing and will leave even the most attentive audience member perplexed. Yet it’s also weirdly entertaining; and not in a ‘so bad it’s good’ car crash kind of way. It’s genuinely a lot of fun, and while just about everyone will be offended by one element or another, it does at least have something to say for itself, which stands it in marked contrast with similarly complicated Hollywood fare such as Inception and the Matrix sequels, which are all too often simply overly convoluted action movies covered in a veneer of pop philosophy.
Finally, there’s the use of 3D, which is perhaps the most consistently good thing about this movie. Coming out of the screening, even the most cynical of film critics commented on how impressive it is. Partly this is a factor of the novelty of seeing what looks like traditional cell shaded animation rendered in three dimensions, but even if one ignores that, it still stands out as now of the most impressive uses of the technology, both in terms of spectacle and storytelling. Of course, this being 009 RE:Cyborg, even it’s greatest triumph comes with a caveat: because there’s such a great difference, trying to flick between the subtitles and the action will cause eye-strain.
Ordinarily, at this point in a review a mere summary of the writer’s opinion is implemented, but alas here is a summary of some facts: you will be offended by 009 RE:Cyborg, you will be confused by it, and it will hurt you eyes. It’s also one of the most ambitious and interesting movies of the last few years, even if it is a noble failure. Most importantly you must see it in the cinema. In 3D. Just bring a big pack of Neurofen for the aftermath.