Have you ever played a computer game where you have had to tackle the same area or boss repeatedly and have saved the game regularly so you don’t lose your progress? Do you remember not saving and how much work was lost? What if you could do this in real life? – Welcome to Restore Point
Restore Point asks what if a snapshot was taken that saved your data for your body to be respawned on death? We’re not that far off it and this film may be asking at the right time. The institute is the company/organisation that manages the process of storing and restoring data and people. Think Altered Carbon, Ghost in the Shell or Cyberpunk 2077. Black Mirror tackled similar fare with San Junipero but this film takes a more dystopian point of view complete with synth music and purple skies to boot.
Opening in the near future in a generic Central European city blending existing cityscape and scenery with architecture and technology close to current standards to be believable, introducing the Restore Point as a personal backup in the event of unnatural death – even though not fully explained but assumed murder or accidental death. Not everyone is backed up (lapse of time or personal reasons).
It follows police officer Emma who is investigating a kidnapping linked to a group opposing (murdering) people using the Restore Point. Murder victims include one of the creators and his wife. Strangely, neither of them is backed up. The Company that controls this wants the murders resolved and offers to help with her investigation.
The interesting questions it poses are secondary to the detective noir: it could have delved deeper into the procedural and regulatory framework governing restoring points apart from a brief chat over coffee. Are people the same when they return? If an emotion is energy fired between synapses and thoughts are formed from this are they the same thoughts and the same person thinking them? Can the info be altered and if the brain and body are digitised will the information decay over time, be hacked or riddled with ads?
A tangential Ethics & Law question: How would it affect double jeopardy where a person cannot be tried more than once for the same offence unless new evidence (e.g. DNA) comes to light? Say A kills B? Is that still murder if B respawns with no memory of the event? Does A accept punishment and end things immediately and respawn with no memory of events either?
Ultimately It is a detective story that touches on the question of free will vs fate. Being fated to complete something is more likely when you have multiple attempts.
The acting is fine, the special effects are good and an interesting cyberpunk dystopia is built. Character development is alright but you may not become attached to any. It does have obligatory nods to cop tropes. I did like the contrast of traditional and new technologies with a trip to an area where people possessed with the certainty of reincarnation behave as you might expect. As we all might.
I am not sure if something is lost in translation but the dialogue at times feels stilted and the story feels rushed in parts. More interesting moments occur when characters share their views on the moral dilemma posed by the Restore Point. Addressing these further may have helped frame character motivations and added to world-building. It’s ironic given that characters would have more time for brief explanatory conversations about the Restore Point thanks to being revived by the Restore Point.
Overall, Restore Point is enjoyable, keeps you interested and raises questions. An interesting take on the subject matter. For a budget of €2m it sure is impressive.
Maybe a TV show would offer more room to expand on the ideas raised in it.
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