Directed by: Guy Moshe. Starring: James D’Arcy, Anna Brewster, Delroy Lindo. Runtime: 1h 43 min. Released: September 25, 2020.
Adam Bird (James D’Arcy) is still getting used to a technologically advanced world. Humans can’t go out normally in the day because the sun is too toxic, but he does go out while wearing a Hazmat suit.
He feels like the only human in the world that still lives a regular life, doing his job in the day and interacting with clones – necessary workers because they have augmented pigmentation that protects them from the sun. To make matters worse, Adam learns that he’s dying, so he tries to figure out a way to ensure that his family will be taken care of when he’s gone.
A lot of LX 2048 (also known as 001LithiumX) comes as a cautionary tale of advancing technology. Clones are everywhere in this world, and it is a believably created world, though the aspect of the sun burning everyone in the day feels like it could be for a world filled with vampires. Anyway, the big cautionary tale lies within virtual reality vs. actual reality.
We see everyone is hooked on virtual reality, as Adam comes home one day to see his three kids either eating cereal and on VR, playing VR tennis or playing a VR shooting game. They’re all hooked into their little worlds called the Realm. About this world, think Ready Player One or Gamer, but we just don’t see that much inside the Realm because this film is focused on the human implications; not so much the visual spectacle.
We then learn how virtual reality has affected Adam’s marriage with his ex-spouse Reena (Anna Brewster), and those little flashbacks are interesting. Also intriguing is the big hook of this story and their insurance policy: Premium Three. Since they have three kids, they are approved for an insurance policy where if either Adam or Reena die, the surviving spouse is sent a clone replacement before the mourning period is even up. They’ll have all the person’s memories; and given the survey they fill out, they could even be an improved version of Adam or an improved version of Reena. The possibilities writer/director Guy Moshe explores with that are imaginative.
Adam is also trying to save his company because he’s trying to convince the rich executives that VR isn’t the future, but the future is a device called Chip. Now this Chip is kept vague until the ending, so I won’t spoil, but it brings in Delroy Lindo in for a strong supporting role where he gives some much needed exposition for the world building. This drama brings about what’s most interesting about the film, where we realize Adam is so unhappy because he’s still trying to hold onto human connection and what’s real in this world, while everyone else is content jumping into virtual reality where they can be anyone in the world, or be anywhere in the world.
He’s not as willing to jump fully into the Realm, though he does have a relationship with an Avatar called Maria (Gabrielle Cassi) while in the Realm. There are some intriguing existential aspects brought in here, too, about what it means to be human in this new world and how significant we really are.
This is a sci-fi drama with some thriller elements, but the scenes always feel grounded. Some scenes, like the fights between Adam and Reena, aren’t as enjoyable because there’s so much vitriol and both of them are unlikable in these moments. We’re able to see different sides to Adam, but unfortunately for Reena these are the moments we spend the most with her, so we really only see her as Adam sees her: ruthless and heartless, but Brewster plays it so well.
The drama where James D’Arcy is front and centre is where LX 2048 is at its strongest as the dialogue is compelling and his performance is unpredictable. A second half to this film is really intriguing to watch, as D’Arcy just steals the show. He’s also unpredictable because of his mood swings, which we are to understand are caused by him not taking his 001LithiumX medication.
That whole aspect feels like it could be even larger and I wanted to know more about the pill because we’ve had so many science fiction films with clones as a large plot point, that I just don’t think there was enough about the pill that has so many implications in itself. Still, what Guy Moshe explores with his world satisfies.
LX 2048 is now streaming on most video on demand platforms.