LOOK AT YOU, HACKER…
The product of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Joe Kawasaki’s dystopian cyberpunk thriller, Reboot, relays the story of young female hacker, Stat. After awakening from unconsciousness upon her trashed apartment floor with head trauma, no recollection of the previous hours, and an iPhone glued to her hand, the flame haired protagonist is thrust into a nail-biting countdown to the unknown.
Opening with radio interviews conducted with the collective of hackers to which Stat belongs underpinned by a series of time-lapse shots of Los Angeles may not equate to the most creative of opening sequences, yet aerial shots of the black and gold city below summon visions of the filmic Mann-esque LA of Heat and Collateral. The sequence immediately displaying a visual proficiency on the part of Kawasaki and his crew, alongside their intention to provide a sense of boldness and scale to the narrative – two features often found sorely lacking in contemporary short cinema. The endless motion of traffic and light conveying the transit of information surging through the bustling streets from mobile devices and various other sources prime to be plundered by these digital pirates. Reboot’s grandiose soundtrack also deserves to be highlighted for its effectiveness. Foreboding Spanish guitar accents and electronica beats are layered over swelling orchestra strings – ramping up the tension from the moment they tune up.
Characterisation throughout is consistently strong; Emily Somers’ strong-willed Stat instantly drawing parallels with Milla Jovovich’s Leeloo from Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander. Travis Aaron Wade’s Jesse is a believably sinister and often intimidating villain of the piece; an alternate reality Julian Assange arguing against internet transparency in favour of utilising information technology as a means of domination. One scene in which the pair meet inside a coffee shop proves extremely hard-hitting, establishing a tangible animosity which is successfully maintained and built upon throughout the forty minute runtime. The vast majority of the narrative is played out through the interiors of the various hacker’s apartments, though due to accomplished lighting, set design and varied cinematography, environments very rarely become tiring, instead they enforce a sense of claustrophobia – an analogy for the manner in which the internet has drawn individuals closer to one another than ever before, inching away at our privacy with every online profile we possess.
Reboot’s countdown to zero hour is a tense and accomplished ride through the dangers of cyberspace that builds to a satisfying and surprising climax. At times the ambiguous plot can fail to sustain its powerful characters and the film’s true message can be diminished by such instances, but Reboot is a clear indicator of the vast possibilities of short film and how with a bigger budget and more time to manoeuvre throughout, Joe Kawasaki could produce a visually arresting and thrillingly action-packed feature film.