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Review: Warning

By Zach

Black Mirror is the current pinnacle of near-future sci-fi anthology stories and while the new movie Warning features some interesting ideas and a solid cast, it never fully explores its ideas or links them together in any meaningful or compelling ways.

Set in the near future, a mysterious cosmic storm is wreaking havoc with technology on Earth and an astronaut (Thomas Jane) is sent drifting into space when the satellite he’s working on suffers an electrical surge and he’s left to contemplate his life and the nature of humanity itself.  While Jane floats above the Earth, various stories on the planet’s surface unfold from Annabelle Wallis visiting her boyfriend Alex Pettyfer’s family for the first time and dealing with their technology-enhanced immortality, Patrick Schwarzenegger virtually stalking and reliving moments of his relationship with Kylie Bunbury or Garance Marillier as a young teen girl who offers up her body like a “second skin” to a creepy older man to control.  The movie cuts between the various plots but none of them, except for maybe the Second Skin storyline, get a chance to explore their ideas or reach a satisfying conclusion.  Some, like a plot involving essentially an animal shelter for cyborgs, only have 2 or 3 scenes and then the movie moves on.  Some of the ideas definitely could have had some legs and maybe if Warning had been an anthology TV series like Black Mirror instead, they would have gotten more of a chance to shine or lean more into the satire and or horror of the stories.  There’s also a religious/Christianity thread that starts to peek through some of the plots where characters like Thomas Jane talk to and/or question God’s existence but there’s also the satire of Alice Eve’s plot where she has a smart device called God 2.0 that seems to completely skewer and critique religion or the at least the commoditization of religion as she gets dinged with “sins” throughout the day and has to pay for premium access to God without ads, so it’s not clear where the movie wants to go with it’s messaging.  All the stories are also basically rendered moot by the absurdly over-the-top and bleak ending so even if all the stories clicked and wrapped up in satisfying ways, none of it matters in the long run.

Warning has some cool visuals at times and some creepy moments, like the visuals of how teen girl Magda allows herself to become a Second Skin that feels extremely Cronenberg or Patrick Schwarzenegger’s VR setup malfunctioning and his avatar, transforms into an oily looking monster.  The acting for the most part is solid as well with Annabelle Wallis, Alice Eve, and Rupert Everett as an outdated cyborg being some of the standouts.  As already mentioned, the storylines don’t get enough runtime combined into one 90 minute movie and if some of them were instead broken out into a 45-50 minute story by themselves, the story, ideas, and characters would definitely have more room to explore and dig into the concepts they bring up.

Warning has some interesting near-future sci-fi ideas but its short runtime and structure robs any of the storylines from getting as fleshed out as they could have been.  The cast is solid and there are unique and striking visuals at times but the movie never quite gels together.  It’s as if you took all the plots from a season of Black Mirror and had to compress them all into one movie.  If Warning had been an anthology with 2 or 3 storylines or a limited series, the sci-fi concepts it brings up would have more room to explore and dig into what they are trying to say and deliver more satisfying conclusions.

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