The human mind is insanely complex. Controlling such complexity could unlock an untold potential for humanity. So naturally, that’s the task undertaken by the protagonist of Mad Genius. Releasing on digital and on-demand July 3, 2018, Mad Genius asks the questions: If humanity could be “hacked” to better itself, what price is too high? And further, should a price be paid at all? This is a film brimming with food for thought; so let’s see what’s on the menu.
What Lies Within
Mad Genius is directed and written by Royce Gorsuch and stars Chris Mason, Scott Mechlowicz, Spencer Locke, and Faran Tahir. Through each character’s development, we see more and more dimensions to humanity’s flawed nature and possible solutions to it.
The story follows Mason (played by Chris Mason), a brilliant scientist and hacktivist. He is looking to make a difference with his most ambitious goal yet: hacking the human mind. Mason reasons that if he can decode the mind, he can change and upgrade it — wiping out undesirable traits. Thus, begins his journey.
Mason’s “partner” Finn (played by Scott Mechlowicz) aids him in his quest to save the world from itself. As Mason continuously finds himself at the edge of the unfamiliar, Finn is never lax in lending an assertive, snarky hand to help Mason break past his inhibitions. Along the way, the two meet Sawyer (played by Spencer Locke), the cheerful new neighbor who challenges their initial ideology.
Last, they encounter Eden (played by Faran Tahir), the main antagonist. He challenges the pair further. Eden too believes humanity is flawed, but he is pursuing a solution as opposed to Mason’s, one that would erase any hope for Mason’s plan for salvation.
The Breakdown of Mad Genius
A Provocative Plot
Storytelling is one of the strong points of Mad Genius. With concepts like “hacking the human mind” and discovering the “spark of consciousness,” one would expect a movie tackling these topics to be thought-provoking. Gorsuch’s Mad Genius delivers on that and more.
Non-linear points of plot scattered throughout the movie keep the viewer constantly engaged and reflective. Though unnerving, these trippy elements of the film add to the tone of the whole, mirroring the sporadic nature of the human mind itself.
In addition, the protagonist and antagonist are cleverly similar in their beliefs yet contrasting in their conclusions. This war of ideologies compliments the physical struggle between the geniuses and reminds us to look past the earthly spectacle altogether.
Though Gorsuch brushes over a few bits of the plot in favor of exploring the cerebral subjects of the film, he generally does this to the betterment of the movie.
Sci-fi Cinematography At Some of Its Finest
The camera work and visual effects for Mad Genius make it a sci-fi thriller that stands out from the rest. Incredibly creative transitions coupled with interesting general shots and camera positioning make for a visually noteworthy film. In addition, all the settings and costumes were realistic, vibrant, and gripping.
The “glitching” effect occasionally placed on the characters is one of the best effects Gorsuch uses throughout the movie and trailer. This effect paired with choppy camera cuts beautifully embodies the mental dissonance Mason and others are struggling with throughout the film.
One weak point is the dialogue scenes. Gorsuch films each competently, but most of these scenes consist of bland shot-reverse-shot between two characters. Given the other stunning frames of the film, Gorsuch definitely has the necessary talent to liven these scenes. He almost seems to turn down the potential creativity of certain moments to focus on the delivered exposition. If so, this was a missed opportunity for more of the unique story crafting prominent throughout the rest of Mad Genius.
The Directing & Dialogue Are… Decent
Royce Gorsuch does a phenomenal job fabricating and framing each scene, but the contents deep within could stand some improvements. Given incredible actors like Chris Mason and Faran Tahir, each moment is a delight to watch, but certain scenes could use a re-shoot.
To Gorsuch’s credit, every scene has nigh perfect sound editing and mixing. However, the dialogue is sorely lacking at points. As a work of art, Mad Genius takes liberties with its use of colorful language, but it often takes things too far. Characters are constantly dropping the f-bomb, to the point it diminishes what the characters say. Swears are heard so much, the story begins to crack since real people would not curse so distractedly often. The dialogue is typically so important that it’s a shame jarring overuses of the f-bomb smother it.
Mad Love For The Characters Of Mad Genius
This film is overflowing with spectacular acting from every cast member involved. Chris Mason delivers an incredible performance as a clever, crazy, contemplative scientist trying to change the world on a scale never before attempted. His dynamic with his costar Scott Mechlowicz is cinematic gold. Each actor compliments the other in every scene they share.
Together they provide a captivating relationship that is a treat to see unfurl.
Faran Tahir steals every scene he is in. Tahir’s sharp understanding of his character Eden combined with masterful acting make for one of the best antagonists of 2018.
Is It Smart To See Mad Genius?
In an age of a glut of science fiction, we at The Daily Fandom try to highlight those pieces of art which dive to the roots of the genre and present something fresh. Mad Genius is one such piece. Flaws and all, Mad Genius is a sweetly cerebral sci-fi thriller that leaves the viewer thinking long after the credits have rolled.
Plot, cinematography, directing, and acting combine to conceive a movie worth sinking your teeth into. I suggest renting what is sure to be a quick cult classic.