Written and Directed by Ivan Sen
Features Hardcoded English Subtitles
On UK digital platforms from 7th November 2022
Set in a city made for machines, frustrated assassin Jack (Ryan Kwanten) struggles with his lonely existence, that is until he meets kindred spirit, April (Jillian Nguyen), who works at a karaoke hostess bar. Equally disenfranchised with her monotonous life, the two begin to bond. However, the closer they get, the more Jack’s health declines as his body starts to battle hormones alien to him. Desperate for answers, he turns to scientist Doctor Bergman (Hugo Weaving) for help. Realising he’s being followed by cyborg hitmen as he navigates the city’s alleyways, Jack senses the clock is ticking in more ways than one.
Sci-fi dramatic thriller EXPIRED, also known as LOVELAND, embraces a stunning aesthetic to tell its futuristic tale of despair in a land that appears to sacrifice the beauty and pain that living has to offer. The neon streets of Hong Kong shine through the murky smog that hangs over this bleak city where life is extended at the expense of a fulfilled existence. Lost souls Jack and April are individuals haunted by their past with no hope for the future. They’re just two lonely people wandering the streets, day-in, day-out, with a lack of exposure to real emotion. Their bond begins to waken something inside both of them, a desire to love, but in a city built for emotionless machines and synthetic experiences, where does love fit into this?
Watching the opening half of EXPIRED, I couldn’t help but reminded of Blade Runner and William Gibson’s Neuromancer but this particular effort takes its own path. It serves as a warning of futuristic intent by society but also is a tale of how a human soul needs to connect with others. Unfortunately, its narrative is quite drawn out which makes for awkward and dull viewing at times. There were multiple instances during its 100 minutes running time that I found myself clock watching, with its sluggish narrative saved only by the film’s performances and the eye-catching environments it surrounds itself with. The vibe of the film is spot on but what was said in 100 minutes could have been said in half the time.
If treated more like an experience of life at a specific time and place, EXPIRED works incredibly well. It’s almost as though you’re Jack yourself, wandering around this emotionally empty city, like a player exploring their environment in a videogame. However, the momentum of the story cannot be overlooked at unfortunately it’s this what drags the piece down, no matter how stylishly pleasing the film may be.