Directed by Vincenzo Natali, starring Jeremy Northam, Lucy Liu, Nigel Bennett and Timothy Webber.

In 1997 Vincenzo Natali made his directorial debut with the cult classic 'Cube', a film about fear, paranoia, suspicion and desperation. Five years later he's back with his second feature, retaining the same themes but with less effect.

Jeremy Northam plays Morgan Sullivan, a middle-aged man, bored with his life in Suburbia. He takes a position with Digicorp, a giant computer company, and in doing so enters a world of corporate espionage. Sullivan creates a new persona, Jack Thursby, which allows him to live out his fantasy life of drinking, smoking and being a ladies' man. But his simple mission of collecting data on future cosmetic products hides Digicorp's sinister agenda: the brainwashing of its employees. Along the way he is approached by rival corporation Sunways and gets recruited as a double agent to spy on Digicorp. Finding himself way in over his head, Sullivan teams up with mysterious femme fatale Rita (Liu). In a world where nothing and nobody are what they seem, can he trust his new friend and more importantly himself?

'Cypher', like its predecessor, is a very well-designed assault on your senses, with flashing visuals and high pitch audio to portray the journey through the portal that is Sullivan's memory. But effects can't hide what is an over-exaggerated storyline and the fact that its stars have very little to work with. Even Liu, known for her humour and sex appeal, comes across as a very poor distraction. What starts as an interesting concept runs out of ideas after 45 minutes and then fills the remainder with a series of crosses and double-crosses. Natali has an eye for style but loses the direction of the story and an audience that will have many questions after watching.

Science fiction is the hardest genre to embrace and Natali fails to pull it off. A waste of talent and your time.

Seán Kavanagh