Opening this Friday, Sept. 23rd, across the U.S., is the new thriller “I.T.” The movie stars Pierce Brosnan as a successful, self-made man, living the latest version of the American Dream: the “Smart” version. In a world powered by technology and smart devices, Brosnan’s Mike Regan shows off his success and manly vigor by building a state-of-the-art “smart” home, which is completely controlled by computers.
You can see it coming, right? Immediately after establishing what a swell guy Mike is and how beautiful his wife and daughter are, the movie wastes no time. Mike brings in Ed, his new company I.T. genie (a very effectively creepy James Frecheville. So effective, in fact, that you’d be surprised Mike let him in his house to begin with!), to upgrade his home and car systems.
Mike’s daughter Kaitlyn (Stefanie Scott) and Ed hit it off, a fact that does not amuse Mike and his wife Rose (Anna Friel) at all, to say the least. Ed is much older, and did I mention, he’s totally creepy? Yeah. And we all know how well movie computer geeks take rejection, right? Doesn’t Mike know that? Doesn’t he go to the movies? I guess not, because he seems genuinely surprised when, after he slams the door in Ed’s face and refers to him as a “nobody,” the aggrieved hacker decides to use his smart system to torture him and his family.
But Mike will not take it lying down. He has James Bond’s blood running through his veins. And that is what the movie is all about. This is not a whodunit movie. The trailer will tell you immediately who the bad guy is and what he does. This is a revenge movie, where a man (emphasis on “man”) must take justice into his own hands because, even though we have all this great technology running our lives, no one, least of all the authorities, seems to quite know how to handle its implications for our privacy, for our civil rights and for our safety. Mike has to resort to the tried and true “dumb” methods of heroism to protect himself, his company and his family.
It is clear that the movie presumes to take the old “good guy vs. bad guy” story and put a new technological, 21st century spin on it. And it does appeal to that very basic need in an entertaining way. But how new is it, really?
Mike’s wife and daughter, in accordance with genre tropes and traditions, are objects, almost property. They are there to provide the picture-perfect life Mike has, so that we know what’s at stake for him; they are there to be used against him by the man who covets what he has “earned,” or rather, was entitled to (which is another question the movie wants you to think about…. but not too much), in particular his beautiful daughter (seen in the picture through the good ole’ male gaze); and they are there to appear helpless, so he can rise to the occasion and show us he is going to be a Man and protect his family. (Not only do the women not help poor Mike fight this awful fight; they are actually angry with him for screwing up and demand that he “fix it.”)
So I guess gender roles are not what’s new here.
As we see in the trailer, Ed uses the home camera system to take private footage of Kaitlyn and spread it among her schoolmates. Since we know young girls these days are practically expected to provide their boyfriends with sexual and/or nude pictures of themselves (pictures which will later be traded with other boys, or oftentimes spread out to humiliate the girl), is this the movie trying to tackle the awfully widespread “smart” problems of “sexting,” online bullying and child pornography? No. It just wants us to know that Daddy has let his daughter down, and now Daddy needs to “fix it.”
So, no. Nothing really new here besides that the weapon of assault is a computer (which, by now, is not really new, either).
“I.T.” will give you 95 minutes of the twisted kind of fun action, led by a charming leading man. Just don’t expect anything more than that.