[Reviews] iBoy (2017)

 

In the post-atomic Sixties, radiation inspired a new wave of comic-book heroes. A radioactive spider’s bite turned Peter Parker into Spider-Man. After a blast of gamma-radiation, Bruce Banner became The Hulk. But today, we all have superpowers. Thanks to the little oblongs that live in our pockets, all beaming out radiation, we can find the answer to almost any question within seconds.

And now, 10 whole years after the iPhone was released, we finally have our first film about a smartphone-powered superhero.

This oddly sombre film is based on a 2010 book by Young Adult novelist Kevin Brooks, best known for the bleakly nihilistic Carnegie Medal-winner The Bunker Diary (condemned in this newspaper as “uniquely sickening… vile and dangerous”).

It’s a bold approach that the script struggles to pull off. As the introverted Tom, Bill Milner remains little more than a cipher, while the two biggest names in the film are given paper-thin characters. Miranda Richardson enjoys herself as Tom’s grandmother, a gobby erotic novelist, but as a cocaine kingpin poor old Rory Kinnear has to grapple with chestnuts like “you’re gonna do what I say, or I’m gonna burn your world down.”

A London youngster is fitted with cybernetic implants in this engaging teen thriller.

„You got shot and you got superpowers? Most people get dead.” In this solid, London-set sci-fi drama average teenager Tom (Bill Milner) lives on the gang-controlled Crowley Estate. It’s a small, drab block of flats surrounded by the brightly lit apartments of millionaires in the shadow of The Gherkin. His biggest concerns are exams and hanging out with his school crush Lucy (engagingly played by ‘Game of Thrones’ star Maisie Williams), until she’s violently assaulted when her brother offends the local thugs.

When Tom is shot in the head during the attack, he survives, but with smartphone fragments embedded deep inside his brain. The consequence? A gnarly scar and the kind of trippy augmented-reality experience a Google Glass technician could only dream of. He can send texts, hack phones, start electrical fires and look up anything, from a face to how to land a killer punch, using just the power of his techy new brain. Racked with guilt for failing to protect Lucy, he uses his new upgrade to become a vigilante, wreaking havoc in a tech-obsessed world.

But at what cost? What happens when iBoy needs a software update? ‘iBoy’ is a sparky film, embedded in London’s cheek-by-jowl world of wealth and poverty. It’s also a dark teen drama, peppered with brutal beatings, gang rape, drugs and dead bodies.

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