Black Box, the latest Amazon original movie, directed and co-written by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr is almost like the least complex episode in the Netflix show Black Mirror. I don’t mean this in a negative way. Black Mirror was one series that really worked for me because of the depth to which it went to show us the repercussions of futuristic technologies. In Black Box also the makers are trying to explore a similar space, and the end product we get here is something that is appreciable but doesn’t become an unsettling experience like the Netflix show.
Nolan is our central protagonist and he was in a coma for a while after he and his wife got involved in an accident. Nolan lost his wife in the accident and when he returned from the coma, he was suffering from memory loss. He was going through a really bad time as he even forgot to take care of his daughter Ava. When everything started to go downhill, he decides to take up an experimental medication by Dr. Lillian Brooks. The aftereffects of this new method are the core of this psychological thriller.
There isn’t too much exercise for our brains to do here, especially if you have seen more complex movies. I am saying this because; in the initial bits Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr and his writer Stephen Herman are not creating that intrigue. We are seeing the life of a man who is finding it really difficult to move on as he doesn’t know who he really was. We just feel a basic sympathy for that character. It is when Dr. Brooks comes into the picture the movie gathers some momentum. And slowly the vague areas are getting an explanation and it does excite you in those moments. But the film goes to a phase that feels pretty simplistic in my opinion. The possibility of moral ambiguity is not getting utilized, thus the film doesn’t stay with you like the way some psychological thrillers do.
Momoudou Athie plays the character of Nolan here. This is a character that goes through a drastic shift in the narrative and the way he performed those transitions was smooth, subtle, and effective. Dr. Brooks played by Phylicia Rasheed has real prominence in the story, but in terms of performance, it wasn’t really offering her much. It was a character that needed to be placed in a grey zone and instead the script placing her as an antagonist reduced the uncertainty.
This is the directorial debut of Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr and what is impressive is that he manages to pull off a futuristic concept without the need for too much visual extravaganza. The visual effects one sees here are pretty minimal and that minimal nature hasn’t really affected the desired impact. The central element of the movie has a lot to do with ethics and morals. And if the movie could have utilized the uncertain emotional state of the human mind, it would have been that disturbing concept. Just like I mentioned in the beginning because I have seen Black Mirror, this movie almost felt like a less complex or a rejected episode from that series. The cinematography here uses the handheld tight shots very often to depict the mindset of the hero.
The duration of Black Box is 100 minutes and for that, I would say it is a passable psychological thriller that aspires to be big on an emotional level. The movie ends with a very clichéd sequence that sights the chances of a sequel. And if that happens, I hope they will come up with a grey and complex possibility of the tech they have introduced in the film.
Black Box, the latest Amazon original movie, directed and co-written by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr is almost like the least complex episode in the Netflix show Black Mirror.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended