I can’t deny my fandom for low-budget science fiction, which often leaves me championing overlooked films that many simply dismiss. As modern sci-fi predicates towards bombastic thrills over idealistic conceits, indie efforts like writer/director Guy Moshe’s latest LX 2048 play a vital role in keeping the subgenre’s spirit alive. Though his final product comes with some unevenness, Moshe’s film successful colors familiar beats with its own twisted, macabre approach.
Set in a post-apocalyptic future where most spend their days hooked into a virtual world (citizens must avoid the sun due to its damaging qualities), LX 2048 follows Adam Bird (James D’Arcy), a VR executive who vehemently works to assure his family a prosperous future (Anna Brewster as his wife Rena) before dying from heart failure (once Adam dies, a superior clone version will seamlessly take his place). As Adam digs deeper into the VR realm, he discovers that all may not be what it seems.
LX 2048 grabs audiences from jump street with its intoxicating world-building. Moshe masterfully manages his inexpensive assets to create a defined landscape, turning our planet into a desolate world that rings with a lingering emptiness (a scene where Adam drives through a vacant Los Angeles with a hazmat suit was particularly resonant). The only interactions Adam has outside his home are with AI units, which Moshe morph into an uneasy presence that tries (and fails) to replicate human behavior. Whether it’s the bright rays of the sun or the speeding trains racing by Adam’s window, Moshe uses every world-building device to develop a pervasive atmosphere that sticks with audiences. The vacant qualities of the landscape create an apt representation of humanity’s emotional distance in a VR-driven world.
As a great sci-fi film should, Moshe’s script introduces intriguing societal questions for audiences to untangle. It’s easy to observe the parallels between the film’s technologically-driven future to our own reality. Thankfully, these comparisons are drawn with a thematic bite and proper emotionality, rendering Adam’s journey for human connection into a universal search for attachment in a detached world. James D’Arcy central performance sells the character’s arc with an unhinged mania, slowly depicting Adam’s unraveling without an ounce of theatricality.
LX 2048’s notable strengths efficiently mask the narrative’s inherent flaws. Mosche’s screenplay draws from several genre hallmarks, often reusing ideas that have been conveyed with more depth and resonance before. Much of the cliches derive from the film’s go-for-broke third act. I appreciate the writer/director’s desire to keep the audience on their toes, but the late twists can be predicted from a mile away. Mosche’s film works better when it favors its desolate atmosphere over the screenplay’s mechanical plotting (Delroy Lindo has a supporting role that goes nowhere).
LX 2048 isn’t without its unkempt qualities, yet Guy Mosche’s film thankfully values substantive ruminations over superficial thrills.