Plurality (2021)

Aozaru Shiao

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Tony Yang, Sandrine Pinna, Frederick Ming Zhong Lee, Yi-Wen Chen, J.C. Lin, Gingle Wang, Lung Shao-Hua, Zaizai Lin, Duncan Lai

In the opening moments, a news report details a child's kidnapping and how the suspect fled on a bus. Numerous passengers are shown on the vehicle before an accident results in it crashing, only for somebody to awaken strapped to a technological device. It's here the premise is lined out for audiences - five passengers died in the bus crash, all suspects in a serial kidnapping and murder case. To find the victims, their brain patterns are scanned and uploaded into a body which can be interrogated. The selected body is a death row inmate who was previously in a vegetative coma, only referred to as Case 139 (Tony Yang).

The premise recalls M. Night Shyamalan's Split, a film which allowed James McAvoy to showcase his skills and make each personality housed within the same body feel distinctive. A similar opportunity lies here for Yang in the lead role, though it feels missed due to heavy-handed choices. Instead of letting Yang's performance mark the differences, the film undercuts his portrayal by shortly inserting the actor into shot.

There are interesting sides to the character, driven by a desire to see his daughter again, though they feel lacking in execution. This is sadly a recurring criticism, as necessary information gets dumped out through clumsy exposition, and is especially true of the two characters 139 interacts with mostly. It's evident the hard-headed Detective Wang (Frederick Lee) is at odds with the sympathetic Dr Shen (Sandrine Pinna), both motivated differently by the ongoing case, though they feel like clichés given sentience.

Writer/Director Aozaru Shiao has crafted a compelling premise with the potential for an interesting chamber piece, brought alive through visually tremendous shots when delving into the lead's mindset. A shame the journey taken seemingly lacks confidence, so wraps a convoluted plot around the initial premise. As a car chase, action beats, and a slasher element are forcibly inserted, any interesting ideas feel lost in this overlong product, needlessly escalating matters to try and be exciting.

Plurality is available on Digital Platforms from 19th July