There are hacker movies that act smart and then there are post-apocalyptic films that make you question the world’s state. Jackrabbit falls into both categories and makes it look cool. The film is set in a 80s-style post-apocalyptic future where citizens live under constant surveillance and old technology becomes part of everyday society. The future has become a scarce place and there’s a curfew for everyone, but if no one follows the rules then the government comes after you. The film follows a hacker and a computer technician join forces to decipher a message from a friend who leaves behind a mysterious computer drive after committing suicide.
Taking place in a place called City 6 after an event known as ‘The Reset’, society struggles to move forward after this event has destroyed any technological advances. With many uses of old computer monitors, circuit boards, and some Atari-like graphic displays, this low-fi world draws some big influences from the science fiction films of the 80s. It’s pretty clear where first time director Carleton Ranney drew his inspirations from when he started crafting this technological world. His method of using minimal effects and old gadgetry proves to be one the film’s strongest characteristics.
Simon (Josh Caras) is an gifted hacker who gets a job at VOPO, an Apple-like company that has flourished since the reset. After his friend Eric (Ryan Dailey) commits suicide, Simon is approached by a freelance hacker named Max (Ian Christopher Noel), who receives a mysterious drive from Eric and asks for his help. The two young men work together to find out what Eric was up to before his death and what caused him to commit suicide.
The film puts Simon at a crossroads between working for VOPO, a company that Max despises, and breaking the law for the better good. Max, however, tries to stay under the radar from society and yearns for going beyond the walls of City 6. The film puts a lot of emphasis on the relationship between Simon and Max and what motivates these two guys.
Jackrabbit works more as an indie film rather than a techno-thriller. That’s what makes the film challenging in regards to the pacing. Once Simon and Max make a breakthrough, or when VOPO chases after them, the excitement builds. However, once the discovery is made, we get cut into an unnecessary side plot involving Simon and his father or Max’s struggling drug addiction. So much is happening in the film as the story advances, enriching both this world and the characters, but it never comes together into the story that it’s trying to be.
The retro production is what makes the film pop along with it’s smooth storytelling. The sets in the film make it look like every obsolete technology still has a purpose in this futuristic society. Ranney’s vision of his 80s futuristic world comes to life, proving that films can look impressive without having a higher budget.
Jackrabbit fails to bring the plot together, as viewers may start to lose interest due to the slow pacing and the sloppy editing. This sci-fi indie flick will get some appreciation for it’s production value and its simple premise seems intriguing. It didn’t look like Ranney minds if there were some random people in the plot that comes and goes with no development to their character or conclusion. The climax of the movie left a lot of questions unanswered making us wonder what the whole point of the plot was.
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