Cyberpunk films are no stranger to presenting worlds where there are an abundance of options for escaping reality in favor of one more pleasant. In the future of “Narcopolis,” escapism comes in the form of a pill, or vial, or candy.
Drugs have been legalized in 2024, produced by pharmaceutical giant Ambro and sold by legal representatives and RATS who act as urban nomads keeping the trade of the street dealer alive. This, statistically, has lowered crime, reduced the number of overdose facilities and produced a supposed utopia in the UK.
Aside from the concept of the world in which this film takes place, everything presented makes you feel like you’ve been injected with a good dose of downers, locked in a loop of sameness shown to you from your own memories.
Frank Grieves (Elliot Cowan) plays a Dreg, which is the equivalent of a DEA agent walking a beat like a patrolman officer. He responds to a break-in at an Ambro facility and comes across a dead junkie that appears to have overdosed on a drug not on the market and died in a way that can’t be explained by forensics.
Grieves is currently separated from his wife and son, is recovering from his own drug addiction, is on thin ice with his superiors after screwing up a recent drug bust while off the clock, but for some inexplicable reason he feels the need to dive into an investigation on a new street drug to know who’s producing it. Why? Because the plot demands it, that’s why.
After kidnapping an unconscious girl at the Ambro scene, and finding his way to a Russian scientist who’s sensitive to RF discharge, forcing him to live out in the country, Grieves learns that his dead junkie and the girl are actually time travelers come to fix the ills of the world brought on by Ambro and its legal narcotics from the year 2044.
Writer-director Justin Trefgarne makes many homages to Blade Runner and The Terminator through visuals and wardrobe, and the soundtrack is one that needs to be available for download now. But the story was a mess in how it was presented. Delivery was so incoherent I felt as though I was drugged the entire time. Characters are pale imitations of tropes we’ve seen far too often in this genre. Add to that a cheap attempt to administer profundity to this story with mention of an HG Wells novel, pointing to a twist you will put together about five minutes in, and you’ve got a film not really worth watching.
Hell, you might want to take an Ambro pill to forget you ever thought to watch it at all.