Since nowadays we can’t go two seconds without checking our cell phones and everyone seems to be spending enormous amounts of time online, cautionary tales about our overdependence on technology have suddenly become all the rage. I.T. is the latest, very modest entry into this little subgenre.
Mike Regan (Pierce Brosnan in full “rich bastard” mode) is an aviation tycoon living in an inmaculate, top-of-the-line smart house with wife Rose (a wasted Anna Friel) and daughter Kaitlyn (Stefanie Scott). He has it all, until he makes the mistake of inviting over his company’s weird I.T. guy Ed Porter (James Frecheville), in appreciation for saving his behind during a work presentation. Ed, of course, is a loon with a few screws loose and pretty soon he starts making his boss’ life hell, taking advantage of the fact that Mike is no tech expert.
What sets this movie apart from others of its ilk is that Mike is an old guy a bit behind the times having to deal with technology, a lot like Harrison Ford in that one techno-thriller you probably don’t remember, Firewall. This lack of computer expertise probably extends to the writers – Ed is of the “type random keys and make things magically happen” breed of film hackers – but things move at a nice clip and this isn’t really an issue.
Things get even more interesting when Mike briefly enlists the help of a shady tech expert played by Michael Nyqvist; watching these two work together is so much fun you wish the movie would just abandon the thriller plot and follow them around. It’s a missed opportunity; one would happily pay to watch Brosnan and Nyqvist in say, a TV show about two old detectives sticking it to the young tech-savvy punks.
Despite all its talk about the dangers of high technology, this is at heart an old fashioned film, a throwback to all those “enemies in our midst” thrillers from the late 80s and early 90s. Ed, for example, is an alumni of the Glenn Close School of Jilted, Psychotic Wackjobs, and Frechette has fun going over-the-top; however, singing 80s pop hits while alone in your car doesn’t make you threatening, no matter how crazy you are.
Director John Moore (remember John Moore?) directs with a slick and polished style, fitting for a story about a billionaire living in a swanky, antiseptic smart house. At one time, Moore was seen as a director of stylish but slight genre films, until the fifth Die Hard came along and suddenly no one wanted him near a large budget again. This is a more modest outing, and Moore does just fine; he just might be able to bounce back with more mid-level thrillers like this.
I.T. is really nothing original, adding a few high-tech bells and whistles to an age-old tale you’ve seen many times before; it’s also laughably ridiculous in spots – Frechette’s previously mentioned and ill-advised singalong to Missing Persons is an instant camp classic – but Brosnan is always watchable, still kicking ass at 63, and that alone makes this a forgettable but undemanding way to pass the time.
I.T. opens in theaters and is available on VOD today, Friday, 23 September.