Review: Netflix Original “iBoy” Is A Fun Sci-Fi Flick
I love me some Netflix Originals. Even if some end up being not good, I always enjoy the excitement of feeling that what I’m about to watch is somehow untainted. As if Netflix made a movie just for me; a film so secretive that they didn’t put it into theaters because they wanted to get it in front of me as quickly as possible. When they end up being a good film (or sometimes great), that it makes it all the more better: such is the case with their new action/sci-fi release, “iBoy”.
When Tom (Bill Milner) gets brutally attacked, he wakes up days later from a coma to find that parts of his phone have been embedded in his head. Now equipped with the power of his mind basically acting as an iPhone, Tom can hack anything electronic and decides to use that to his benefit. Finding out that he was attacked because a local crime lord was sending a message to his friend Lucy (Maisie Williams), and her brother that didn’t want to play ball, Tom also has the power of anger and won’t stop until he single-handedly brings the gang down and ultimately runs them from his city.
“iBoy” doesn’t feel like something I haven’t seen before, but that didn’t stop me from having a blast while watching it. It’s definitely formulaic in its approach: there’s a bad guy, a young kid that gets pushed around finally has the ability to be stronger than his attackers, his justification for his actions are a little on the flimsy side given the severity of how he deals with it, and despite having super powers he will screw up at some point that will serve as the launching pad for a quick conflict that helps drive the story to its conclusion. Fortunately for the viewer, “iBoy” isn’t trying to be something it isn’t. Writer Joe Barton and director Adam Randall set out to deliver a science fiction film that’s action packed yet feels authentic in its approach and that’s exactly what we are given. If you try to make it more than that, you may be disappointed, but you’ll only have yourself to blame.
Milner’s portrayal of young Tom is what really impressed me most. While he’s had minor roles before this movie, this is Milner’s first chance to really carry a film and he is definitely up for the task. A character like this could have come off as one dimensional, but Milner approaches it with this sense of honesty and humility that makes Tom feel like a relatable person (ya know, despite the computer in his head). When the selling point of me watching the movie was originally because it had Maisie Williams in it, you can imagine how surprised I was that I wasn’t longing for her to be in every scene. While it may seem like a small thing to others, making me forget why I wanted to watch a movie in the first place because you’re acting is that good is impressive. Or maybe just unexpected in the best possible way.
There are small things I had issues with. One of those things being the fact that these kids from a prep school are somehow taking on a drug kingpin and his cronies and going head-to-head with them physically and holding their own. Just because the kid has the internet at his fingertips and can watch a video that shows you how to fight does not mean the power behind his fists would actually be enough to knock someone out. Why do they make the kid a vigilante anyway? If he can hack anything electronic from the comfort of his own bedroom, why is he throwing on a hoodie and risking his own safety? Maybe I’d just be lazy when it came to cleaning up the streets of my city; preferring to call the cops with information and evidence as opposed to getting a first-hand look at a drug deal between dangerous people. It just seems that everything could be solved quickly in these kind of films if they just did the rational thing, but I guess that would make the movie twenty minutes long and not entertaining in the least bit.
Something to watch for: Rory Kinnear’s performance as Ellman — the drug dealer and the man behind the curtain. While he only appears in the latter stages of the film, he turns in an inspired performance that really helped legitimize this movie. I love when an actor can take a character that I’m inherently supposed to hate and make me think, “Maybe he’s not all that bad.” It could just be his British charm, or the fact that he’s not some Law & Order version of a criminal, but I couldn’t help but hope that somehow they could all just shake hands and continue doing their own thing at the end of the movie. Once again, I suppose that would make for a boring story. Despite the small amount of screen time, Kinnear gives us a criminal that ranks right up there with Jack Nicholson’s performance in “Departed”. A crime boss that’s a little unhinged but also intelligent.
“iBoy” is now streaming on Netflix. Watch it because Maisie Williams is in it; end up coming out of the experience with a favorite new actor.