When computer expert Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Northam) joins a huge multinational company, he assumes a new identity and is sent undercover to investigate corporate espionage. Before long, he finds himself caught up in a vicious cycle of paranoia and mistrust. Then along comes Rita (Lucy Liu), a sexy and smart secret agent who informs Sullivan that he's being brainwashed and that she is the only one who can help him.

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An intriguing thriller.

Vincenzo Natali who wrote and directed Cube, an out-of-headspace-thriller, has come up with a second effort on the big screen that is possibly more romantic, but just as intriguing, Cypher. Jeremy Northam stars as the suburban nerd Morgan Sullivan who applies for a job with Digicorp, a high tech company. He passes all their brain scan tests and is assigned to spy on corporate conferences all over the US as Jack Thursby, an assumed identity who can be anything Morgan wants him to be. He leaves his straight suburban guise behind, starts smoking and ordering whisky instead of ginger ale. And then he meets Rita Foster, Lucy Lui, who starts opening his eyes to the dangers of the world of intrigue that he's enmeshed in. When given the chance to become a double agent for the equally ruthless Sunway Systems, his world gets even more confusing.

Cypher
is based on a very clever debut screenplay by Brian King which has been really intelligently transferred to the screen by Canadian director Vincenzo Natali. He creates an almost monochromatic high tech world that is alienating and very threatening, his images reflecting the constant shifts of Jack's reality. It's an intriguing thriller with a very effective soundtrack by Michael Andrews and beautiful cinematography by Derek Rogers who shot Cube. Jeremy Northam is truly excellent, all the performances are solid. The film taps into contemporary paranoia about a world in which we're at the mercy of powerful, manipulative but unseen forces. It is gripping stuff. It's rare that you get a thriller that is as intelligently effective as Cypher.

Comments by David Stratton:
A very complicated sci-fi thriller, which really grows on you (and is an improvement on the director's earlier film, Cube). Jeremy Northam is good as the unhappy everyman who becomes a spy without have a clue about what he's really doing, and the film achieves a good deal on a modest budget.