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Review: MAD GENIUS (2017)

Filmed and released on the festival circuit as MINDHACK, Royce Gorsuch’s debut feature MAD GENIUS is a bizarre film that mixes elements of cyberpunk, THE MATRIX and FIGHT CLUB into a unique experience. Whether or not that’s a good thing will depend strongly on the viewer.

Mason (Chris Mason, THE FADES) is a hacker on a quest to hack the ultimate target, the human brain. He wants to rewire mankind and eliminate war, hate, and evil in general. Along the way, he’s managed to unleash Finn (Scott Mechlowicz DEMONIC) his brash alter ego into the real world. It’s also set Eden (Faran Tahir ESCAPE PLAN) on their trail.

Eden has the same idea as Mason, but he wants to use it to destroy humanity and obviously, he has no problem killing to achieve that goal. And just who is the beautiful and mysterious Sawyer (Spencer Locke INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY, LANDMINE GOES CLICK) who keeps drifting in and out of his life? And most importantly, is any of this real?

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MAD GENIUS is a film with some big ideas and asks some serious questions. It doesn’t always succeed at answering them, but it keeps things interesting enough that I stayed caught up in it until the end. Despite the depth of its ideas and some of the conversations, it never becomes talky or preachy, a problem that affects a lot of low-budget idea-driven science fiction. It knows it isn’t and doesn’t have the budget to be, an effects-driven film. But it does deliver them when needed.

Granted, the effects and action scenes aren’t mind-blowing. In fact, most of the effects have a charmingly low-tech feel to them. Some of the scenes of people “glitching” reminded me of MAX HEADROOM, and that’s a good thing. There are also some nice visual touches, like the illuminated fox mask Mason wears when he live casts as Mr. Vix. The responses on social media as he live casts also add a touch of realism to the proceedings.

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So, if you’re up for a film about the nature of the mind, the ethics of playing God and other serious topics and isn’t a talk fest MAD GENIUS is what you want. It might not deliver answers to all the issues it raises, but that’s not always a bad thing.

MAD GENIUS will be available on VOD and on Demand July 3, 2018, from Clay Epstein’s Film Mode Entertainment.

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