Welcome to Should I Check Out…, our continuing feature where we review recently released genre titles that you may not have heard of or not had a chance to explore. We let you know whether you should take a chance and check it out or just take a pass. This week, we take a look at the Netflix movie “Anon.”
One of the biggest debates in modern society, especially since the enactment of the Patriot Act and subsequent creation of Homeland Security, is the issue of privacy. Those on the “far right” suggest that there’s no need for privacy and demand, “What are you trying to hide anyway?!” Those on the “far left”predictably take the opposite view and demand that everything remains private and try to guarantee that the government will never be able to snoop. And yet, if we protect everything from all snooping, then don’t the bad guys win because we can’t get the intel on them? If the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA can’t snoop our emails, phones, and browser history, how can they protect us from the people who want to do us harm? And yet, if we give up all our privacy for protection, what then do we have left?
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” (Benjamin Franklin).
“In my view, the Government’s metadata collection program is entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment. Even if the bulk collection of telephony metadata constitutes a search … the Fourth Amendment does not bar all searches and seizures. It bars only unreasonable searches and seizures. And the Government’s metadata collection program readily qualifies as reasonable under the Supreme Court’s case law.” (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh)
Yes, I know I’m over-generalizing, but this isn’t a political debate article, it’s a movie review.
Netflix‘s original movie ‘Anon’ takes on this debate with aplomb. The overall premise of the show is that in the not-so-distant future, there will exist technology that will tap into a person’s nervous system such that everything they see is recorded forever in The Cloud and accessible by anyone with whom they share the memory, as well as any duly-authorized government official. Adding to the abject coolness of the scenario, the tech also interfaces with the Internet, allowing real-time identification of everyone and everything you see. It also allows for some interesting customized advertising opportunities.
‘Anon’ follows one Sal Frieland, played by Clive Owen, who is a detective in a nameless metropolis who heads up the local police’s homicide division. As you can imagine, his job is a little boring because to solve crimes you need only access the victim’s memory recordings and voila, you know who did it. And yet, what if someone was able to beat the system, hack the program, and remain anonymous from your view? (Yes, the movie’s title is a little on the nose.) You find out pretty quickly that Ms. Anonymous, played by Afiya Bennett, is central to the story. The cast is rounded out by actors such as Morgan Allen, Jeffrey Men, and James Tam.
I think the film does a great job of laying out the perils of what this technology would entail: too-easily recalled memories, too-easily stolen memories, and too-easily snooped privacy. On top of that, there’s the issue of whether you could hack the system that records everything from a person’s eyes, could you not cause the person to see whatever you wanted them to? It’s hard to talk about the film too much without spoiling it. What I can say is if you enjoy ‘Black Mirror’ or any other of these near-future tech shows that are so popular lately, you’ll like this one too. It has a sedate pace, but it is a nice slow burn with an ultimate reveal that isn’t too obvious.
My conclusion is: You should see it!
“It’s not that I have anything to hide, it’s that I don’t have anything I want to show you.”