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Dark City (1998) — CoverUps.com
Rufus Sewell — John Murdoch
Directed By: Alex Proyas
Running Time: 1h 40min
Dr. Schreber: [voiceover] First there was darkness. Then came the strangers. They were a race as old as time itself. They had mastered the ultimate technology. The ability to alter physical reality by will alone.
John Murdoch: When was the last time you remember doing something during the day?
Inspector Frank Bumstead: So Husselbeck, what kind of killer do you think stops to save a dying fish?
Dr. Schreber: I call them the Strangers. They abducted us and brought us here. This city, everyone in it... is their experiment. They mix and match our memories as they see fit, trying to divine what makes us unique.
John Murdoch: Excuse me. How do I get to the end of the line?
Mr. Wall: Do not fret, Anna. I will give you some more pretty things soon.
CoverUps.com Rating: 4 UFOs
By the CoverUps.com staff
Awash in urban angst and paranoia, "Dark City," with its endless night, fugue-like acting and phantasmagoric themes, is a dead giveaway that director Alex Proyas has been rifling through Doctor Caligari's cabinet as much as it has Fox Mulder's " X-Files."
John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell), Dark City's tortured lead, has the same terrible knowledge as Mulder, the Lone Gunmen, and Oliver Stone: A secretive, all-powerful cabal is conspiring against the people of Earth. Only no-one believes him.
In this stylish blend of futuristic thriller and film noir, a race of bald, albino extraterrestrials, aka the Strangers, are the film's villains. These chalky white, black cloaked malefactors are refugees from a dying world intent on molding Earth and its people to meet their needs.
To that end, they've been conducting nightly experiments on the city's skylines as well as its denizens. Though they can freeze time and alter matter by chattering their teeth in the presence of a giant head, they're also dependent on the nefarious Dr. Schreber (Kiefer Sutherland) in their quest to quarantine and comprehend such human attributes as heart and soul.
Every night at the stroke of 12, the city's clocks stop while the Strangers carry out yet another new experiment, and mad scientist Schreber edits the memories of the unsuspecting populace. Most people wake up the next morning with no record of the night's events, but Murdoch is different, an abnormality created by the constant tinkering.
When Murdoch comes to in a strange hotel with amnesia, a bleeding head wound and a dead woman in the bedroom, he becomes determined to recover his memories and thereby learn the truth. The Strangers, of course, are just as determined to stop Murdoch, who gradually discovers that he shares his enemies' supernatural powers.
The slavish Schreber is a limping Igor to the Strangers' leader, Mr. Book (Ian Richardson), but he also develops an interest in Murdoch's seemingly hopeless quest. With occasional hints from the doctor, Murdoch manages briefly to evade both the Strangers and intrepid Inspector Bumstead (William Hurt), who remains unconvinced about Murdoch's connection with a string of grisly murders.
Hurt adds some gravitas to this extravagant universe of aliens and crackpots, but the film is mostly a showcase for Sewell, the British actor previously best known for "Carrington" and "Cold Comfort Farm." With a character arc that reaches from lost soul to demigod, Sewell's performance is as engrossing as Proyas's otherworldly vision.
And once you've been promoted to demigod, what's first on the agenda? Let there be light!
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