Anti Matter (2017) Review
Smart sci-fi thriller is a challenging and entertaining experience.
Anti Matter is a 2017 sci-fi thriller about an Oxford PhD student who finds herself unable to build new memories following an experiment to generate and travel through a wormhole.
Most big-studio sci-fi movies have steadily devolved from Stanley Kubrick‘s mind-bending 2001: A Space Odyssey to loud, visual effects-driven films that do less to challenge an audience than fill the screen with action. Few modern films push viewers to really think about what is happening in the story, unafraid to use science and science language to build a smart experience. It takes smaller films like Shane Carruth‘s time travel movie Primer or James Ward Byrkit‘s Coherence to take big leaps and the latest to do such is Keir Burrows‘s Anti Matter, a gripping, intelligent thriller that does the genre right.
Ana (Yaiza Figueroa), a brilliant student at Oxford, working with colleagues Liv (Philippa Carson) and love interest Nate (Tom Barber-Duffy), have made a startling breakthrough, the ability to pass objects through a small man-made wormhole. From marbles to Rubik’s Cubes to a cat, they soon realize they have created the most important scientific discovery of mankind, but to get funding, they need a wow factor and after drawing sticks, decide to send Ana through. It works, but immediately after things don’t feel right. She’s lost her short term memory and both Liv and Nate are acting odd, not to mention the masked intruder who ransacked her apartment and the continuing feeling that she’s being watched.
There’s something about a smart, science-based mystery that has always appealed to me, all that techno-babble and Frankenstein laboratory gadgetry mixed with a brainy story that just pulls me in, and Anti Matter is loaded front to back in it. Burrow’s doesn’t waste anytime making it clear that this is the kind of movie he’s making, opening with a sensational childhood flashback that segues into a flourish of science-y stuff that is spinetingingly in its confidence and trust in the audience. Not that it’s hard to follow because one of the strongest things going for the movie is Burrow’s creative direction that makes keeping up with the complex storyline very manageable. For an independent film with a small budget, this is quite an achievement as the film is no slouch when it comes to how it looks or how it’s acted.
While it borrows from a few well-known hits, including Christopher Nolan‘s Memento, there is plenty here that’s strikingly original. Ana is a terrific character, losing her grip on reality while she works like a detective to try and figure out what has happened to her. This is where Anti Matter really finds its footing as she is plagued by visions and forced to keep notes so she won’t forget. We are as unstable as she is and piecing it together is the fun part as the clues mount and we learn the truth about her experiment.
Anti Matter is wickedly smart, and while you might think you know what is happening, you can be sure you don’t. This is a rare film that entertains as well as challenges, combining a slick sci-fi adventure with a genuinely emotional experience and a clever, well-earned ending. Highly recommended.
Anti Matter (2017) Review
Director(s): Keir Burrows
Actor(s): Yaiza Figueroa, Philippa Carson, Tom Barber-Duffy