Set in the near future, the Memento-inspired plot is centred on grizzled ex-soldier Ryan (Clarke), who wakes up sans-memory in the back of a van with a kidnapped boy. After 9 minutes and 47 seconds Ryan blacks out, only to reawaken several days later in a new location. This cycle keeps repeating itself, and each ten minute rebirth brings with it a new set of clues as to Ryan’s predicament.
The core idea at the heart of The Anomaly is a good one, and Simon Lewis’ potential laden script sets it up well. In the decidedly strong first act we’re just as bewildered as our protagonist, frantically trying to piece together what’s going on. Sadly, what starts off as urgent and compelling soon becomes tedious; despite there being a steady stream of new information for Ryan in each ten minute burst of consciousness, the circumstances he continually finds himself in fall into a familiar pattern.
The same can be said of the numerous action sequences. Often set to thumping dance music, Clarke speeds up and slows down multiple fist-fights. It’s an effective technique at first, but the choreography becomes more and more noticeable as time wears on, dampening the impact of each subsequent encounter. Clarke is capable enough when it comes to those action sequences, but when the time comes for him to truly emote he’s found wanting. Ian Somerhalder fares far better, the Vampire Diaries actor turning in a charismatic performance as the enigmatic Harkin. Elsewhere Brian Cox is criminally underused, and Alexis Knapp’s Dana is another female character who is hopelessly side-lined at the film’s conclusion.
Despite solid performances and some deft directorial touches, the narrative in The Anomaly doesn’t evolve often, nor innovatively enough to make good on its early promise.