LX 2048

Producers: Karolis Malinauskas. Linas Pozera, Matthew G. Zamias, Pedro Tarantino and Guy Moshe   Director: Guy Moshe   Screenplay: Guy Moshe   Cast: James D’Arcy, Anna Brewster, Gabrielle Cassi, Delroy Lindo, Gina McKee, Jay Hayden, Juliet Aubrey, Linc Hand, Logan Findlay, Dylan Pierce, Ronin Zaki Moshe and Majus Metiejus Prokopas   Distributor: Quiver Distribution

Grade: C-

This talky sci-fi movie, filmed in Lithuania and Los Angeles, is set in 2048, when the ozone layer has been depleted so completely that people can no longer venture out in the daytime without a hazmat suit, since the sun’s rays would fry their skin.  As a result most people sleep through the day and venture out, if at all, at night.  Mostly they live permanently inside with their Virtual Reality glasses providing experiences and entertainment without real human contact.

An exception to the rule is Adam Bird (James D’Arcy), who gets up in the morning, drives into the office in a hazmat suit, and takes a seat at a conference table where he interacts with empty chairs “occupied” by executives participating from their homes.  He argues vigorously about needing to adapt their technology to respond to changes involving the replacement of VR wit digital chips, but seems to be getting nowhere.

His anxiety about the company’s future is connected with his own health.  Unwilling to become hooked on the drug (Lithium X) that keeps others calm, he now learns that his heart is failing, which threatens his ability to provide for his estranged wife Reena (Anna Brewster) and their three sons—Kenny, Nate and Joshua (Dylan Pierce, Ronin Zaki Moshe and Majus Metiejus Prokopas), who live with her in a separate house.

Not that when he dies they will be on their own. Since Adam and Reena had three children when having even one was something most couples avoided (raising kids being an inconvenience), they were enrolled in a special insurance program by the government to encourage a rise in the birth rate By prior arrangement a deceased spouse will be replaced by a clone, one that might arrived “improved” by the survivor’s suggestions. And Reena has made a few in her insurance agreement. 

In desperation about his future Adam arranges to talk with Donald Stein (Delroy Lindo), the elusive genius responsible for the entire cloning regimen.  Their extended conversation is not terribly helpful except for one point. In addition to worries about being replaced, Adam is concerned with the fate of his female companion Maria (Gabrielle Cassi). She’s a beautiful AI creation that he imagines being with while he actually consorts with a cheap sex doll, and while she might be synthetic, she provides him with the sympathetic support he craves. (In fact, it was his refusal to give her up that led to his separation from Reena, though she admitted to having a male version of her own.) Stein informs him that it might be possible to bring Maria into the “real” world, or to transplant Adam into hers.

Writer-director Guy Moshe obviously wants his elaborate parable about the future to be a commentary on the increasing dehumanization of modern society as well as the destruction of the environment.  And there are points when he manages to meld satire and seriousness on the myriad facets of these subjects with a degree of success—a sequence in which he and Reena discuss their mutual cloning preferences with a government agent (Jay Hayden), for example, is witty, and even better is the strained conversation Adam has with a cop (Linc Hand) after a family tragedy abruptly alters his calculations. 

But elsewhere the screenplay is just dully verbose, loaded down as it is with exposition needed for its philosophical speculations.  The entire segment with Lindo, for instance, is hobbled by boring pseudo-scientific gobbledygook.  And what’s intended as a big, flashy finale, in which Bird confronts his own supposedly improved clone,  is prolonged far beyond the ability to support its meager content (they spar with one another endlessly until an accident settles the matter of which will survive).  It does, of course, give McAvoy the opportunity to go “big,” but he’s already shown his ability to do that in M. Night Shyamalan films like “Split” and “Glass,” so the effort seems redundant here.  No one else makes much of an impression besides Hayden and Hand (Brewster coming off as a one-note harridan), but it’s nice to note that one of the three boys who play the couple’s sons is apparently related to Moshe. 

Nor is the technical work sufficiently outstanding to set the movie apart.  Paulius Seskas’ production design and the VFX effects team aim for a coolly modernist look, but the images have the plastic, artificial feel that so often affects such work.  Thomas Buelens’ cinematography and the score by Sarah DeCourcy, Ian Richter and Erez Moshe (family ties again) are okay, but the director’s editing could have been a good deal sharper.

“LX 2048” earns points for trying to be a cautionary tale about a potentially dystopian future, but its quality suggests it should be approached with caution itself.