Science fiction and detective stories have proven to be a good combination. The mix of advanced technology and old fashioned investigation techniques tend to balance each other out and lead to strong storytelling. Zone 414 takes place in the “City of Robots”. When the colony’s creator hires a private investigator (Guy Pearce) to locate his missing daughter, secrets are uncovered.
Zone 414 checks off all the expected boxes. There are some interesting changes – men can request to threaten and even stalk androids – but most of it will be very familiar. For example, it is a society where androids provide lonely men companionship. This is not the biggest issue with the film, however. Zone 414 has a surprising lack of follow through. The leads are an impressive pair and occasionally show off their considerable talents. But there is never the sense that either of them are allowed to give it their all.
Jane (Matilda Lutz) is a role audiences have seen before. She is the android who can feel emotions and wants more from life. It is not the most novel idea, but it is one that can be very engaging with the right script. The same goes for Pearce’s David. The role seems tailor made for the star. Not only do things never click, when David and Jane finally team up, things somehow become worse. At this point. Zone 414 is content to become derivative and tedious.
In the end, what ends up hurting the film most is its inability to bring anything exciting to the table. Zone 414 gets a little too caught up in the machinations of its story without fully investing in the script. There is little action until the final act. The audience has no reason to become invested in what is happening. This leads to a dull story that brings nothing new to the table.
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