SCOPERS (2011) aka The Speed of Thought
Written and directed by Evan Oppenheimer
Joshua Lazarus (Stahl) is one of a few human beings gifted with telepathic powers. Hired by governments to read people’s minds and extract information from them, Lazarus leads a solitary life, one without a future, as those gifted like him, called Scopers, never reach past the age of 29 due to a horrible mentally disabling disease. When Lazarus falls for a fellow Scoper who’s 31 years old, he attempts to escape the clutches of the government officials in the hope to have a future and to find out the truth once and for all.
Evan Oppenheimer’s sci-fi SCOPERS is entertaining right from the start, with Terminator 3 star Nick Stahl starring as protagonist Joshua Lazarus – a young guy who lives a care-free life, drinking, gambling and bedding women with the help of his special gift. Whilst he looks like he has it all, he is in fact a very lonely guy and when he hits his 28th birthday, his mortality becomes all too clear to him and the increasing occurrence of voices in his head only furthers the growing concern of the rare mental Widman’s disease. Joshua receives assistance from his friend and mentor Sandy (an excellent Wallace Shawn), who runs the School for Gifted Children, where Joshua himself was raised and taught. In return for the government jobs that Joshua and fellow Scoper Kira (Taryn Manning) embark upon, Sandy receives government backing and funds to help the gifted kids have a greater shot at life, however short it might be.
With only medication available to help slow down the mentally debilitating disease, Joshua begins to give up hope until he meets Anna (Mia Maestro), the daughter of Argentinean Finance Minister he’s sent to bankrupt for the NSA. The two hit it off and after discovering she’s older than 29, the age of which no scoper has surpassed, Joshua makes it his mission to seek the truth and to have a long, fulfilling future with his new love.
It’s plain to see that SCOPERS was made on a budget, but Evan Oppenheimer has done so much with this story to make it as solid as possible, from spending time developing the characters to getting the audience familiar with Joshua’s abilities. Nick Stahl plays his role of Joshua incredibly well and has an endearing quality that allows the viewer to invest in him as a character and to share his pain and loneliness as a man who’s life is turned upside down. The whole idea of everything you knew being a lie, especially when you have an ability to get into people’s heads, makes for gripping viewing and Oppenheimer has crafted a tight-knitted, satisfying sci-fi that entertains as much as it intrigues.
The film itself has been shot in a traditional way, which should leave a smile on those who dislike the use of shaky cam in modern cinema. Everything about the way the movie has been presented, from camera angles to edits, is easy on the eye, and the use of haze when Joshua decides to enter someone elses head, be it a ‘normal’ person or a fellow scoper, give a dreamy aura to it, to show the difference between reality and telepathic engagement.
SCOPERS isn’t mind-bending like films such as Inception, but it does have a mystery aspect to it which will keep the viewer’s attention. A well-rounded, solid sci-fi drama.