Review of Webmaster (1998)

Moving picture, 102 minutes

Seen in 2018.

A world-class hacker has turned white hat, protecting the assets of the old man who’s rigged Cyberworld to collapse if something happens to him. His lover makes sure something will.

On some level it’s very cool that the Danes produced both this and The Element of Crime (1984) while the Swedish film industry avoided science fiction almost entirely. This one is crushingly derivative of William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, mixed in with early dot-com lingo like “webmaster”, terabit lines and (top-level) domains (here apparently online communities).

Hard-partying young people decorate every other scene. The main character drinks Japanese tea out of a traditional pot, as real developers are wont to do, but he also conducts his business hanging upside down in VR glasses, talking to an AI alter ego who looks like a CD-ROM menu feature. He gets a ticking clock implanted in his body like the explosive charges of Escape from New York (1981), but doesn’t really have a personality. There is no budget. The sets, the effects, the actors, the script; it’s all terrible, but not laugh-out-loud funny in its shittiness. Rather than being earnest or campy, the execution is merely empty.

References here: Man Divided (2017).

moving picture fiction cyberpunk