‘Zone 414’ Review: Dreaming of Electric Sheep, Again

“Zone 414” doesn’t bother with subtlety. It’s a blatant “Blade Runner” rip-off complete with brooding bounty hunters, psychotic billionaires playing God, and doe-eyed androids searching for love. The folks responsible for this copycat must be banking on the mix-up.

At least it’s got the steps down: A scowling, leather-jacket-clad Guy Pearce plays David, a private investigator hired to track down the daughter of a loony android inventor, Marlon Veidt (Travis Fimmel), in the grungy, neon-lit metropolis known as — surprise, surprise — Zone 414.

People commingle with androids in this electro-Babylon, though the machines — indistinguishable from humans unless you crack open their metal interiors — seem to function primarily as prostitutes and slaves. Like Jane (Matilda Lutz), a shiny new model built to feel real-girl emotions like longing and despair: all the better to entice her sad sack clients.

The director Andrew Baird introduces us to David as he unflinchingly kills a female android, but we’re led to believe that Jane is different. The two team up to track down the missing girl, though the mystery takes second fiddle to their spats and sexual tension, boiling over when Jane dares to touch on David’s past traumas, a big no-no for the stoic toughie.

Lutz, a force of nature in the 2018 thriller “Revenge,” tries her best to toe the line between stilted automaton and impassioned firebrand, but the drama rings false, in no small part because of the wooden script. “Zone 414” isn’t a bad-looking film, fittingly apocalyptic, if generically stylized, thanks to cinematography by James Mather. Still, one wonders why this perfunctory techno-noir exists in the first place.

Zone 414
Rated R for violence, disturbing images, language, some drug use and nudity. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Vudu and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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