Anti Matter has the potential to be captivating, except that it throws
one twist on top of another until all you're left with is a huge pile of
them. The human element that (often subtly) makes these stories work is
sorely missing. In the end, Anti Matter feels like an exercise in trying to be clever, rather than a well thought-out tale.
Ana (Yaiza Figueroa) is an Oxford PhD student who discovers a way to
bend time and space, sending objects through a wormhole and having them
land nearby. Together with two assistants, Nate (Tom Barber-Duffy) and
Liv (Philippa Carson), she tests this revelation out with marbles, a
Rubik's Cube, and even a cat. Then, of course, there's the cliched
“crunch” in which things have to be tested quickly, leading Ana to make
herself a human guinea pig. After being transported a few feet, she
finds bizarre changes. Weird dreams and memory lapses plague her, plus
Nate and Liv act strangely toward her.
There's a lot going on in Anti Matter, including subplots about
a government agent looking into the team's illegal computer use, Ana's
relationship with her mother, and a monkey-masked animal rights activist
who stalks her. Trying to cram so much plot into one movie only
succeeds in making it feel dragged out. A sci-fi thriller of this sort
needs to move like a bullet. Anti Matter has so much business
to take care of that 109 minutes feel substantially longer. Some
judicious editing would have solved that particular problem.
Basic elements aren't much more successful. The dialogue alternates from
being peppered with complex scientific jargon – which is extremely
difficult to parse meaning from unless you're a science whiz – to being
stilted and on-the-nose. Characterization, meanwhile, is minimal. Anti Matter is so busy trying to dazzle you with its pretzel-like structure that it doesn't give the humans more than one dimension.
First time director Keir Burrows, admittedly gets good production values from a
low budget, but he tries to gussy things up in spots by conveying Ana's anguish
via near-subliminal editing and strobing visuals. Again, though, such
elements only serve to elongate a story that's already overstuffed.
The weakest part of Anti Matter, unexpectedly, is its ending.
For starters, the requisite “surprise” is pretty easy to figure out in
advance. (I had it half an hour in.) That significantly blunts the
impact of its reveal. Making matters worse, the movie explains the twist
during the finale, then just keeps on explaining it long after you get
the point. It's like everything is happening in slow motion. A viewer
could easily become impatient with the unnecessary prolonging of
something that's already been made clear.
On the plus side, Yaiza Figueroa gives a respectable performance in spite of a
couple unconvincing, out-of-nowhere action sequences and awkward scenes
like the one where Ana stops a stranger in a library to converse about
whether human memory has mass. (The clues in this movie might as well be
neon signs.) Credit should also be given for at least trying to be cerebral – a quality deserving of praise no matter the outcome.
Anti Matter is otherwise a film with way too much going on at
too sluggish a pace. The desire to mess with the audience's collective
head ends up yielding far more frustration than aw