Writer/director Justin Trefgarne imagines a future where all recreational drugs are legal in his feature directorial debut, mystery thriller Narcopolis. Elliot Cowan (Happy-Go-Lucky, Alexander) stars as Frank Grieves, a new type of cop in the year 2024 that investigates and helps regulate the drug market. When Frank investigates a new type of drug found in an unidentified corpse, his life, his family, and his career are put in jeopardy by forces he may not be able to fight.
Narcopolis is a captivating, enjoyable mystery that may leave your mind wondering what is real.
Because the legalization of certain drugs is gaining popularity, the futuristic world of Narcopolis is plausible and chilling. Within the film, many people, including active members of the police force, are taking legal drugs and it becomes difficult (or, at least, a topic of discussion) to determine what is real, who is sane, and what the potentially ambiguous ending means.
There is some social commentary about the power of people who control the drug market. In reality, drug dealers get rich off the illegal drugs because they are illegal and difficult to come by. But, in the film, that same basic reality exists, except it is not a dealer but a corporation that is able to legally get rich off the addiction of others. Instead of friends or “hired muscle” keeping their deterrents at bay, the corporation has the law, licenses, and the police force.
The acting in this film is top notch; if I struggled hard enough, I might be able to point out a flaw or two, but everyone was believable and did a superb job embodying their characters. Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean, G.I. Joe) plays an older scientist with a rather unique medical condition that is a bit unnerving in even today’s technological age. James Callis (Battlestar Galactica, Eureka) is Todd Ambro, the head and spokesman of the world’s most powerful drug company who, like many companies portrayed in films, may not have the best intentions.
Even Frank’s wife and son, Molly Gaisford and Louis Trefgarne, respectively, are exceptional. They perfectly add an emotional element to Frank’s tribulations. The scenes with Frank and his son, Ben, are heart-warming and gives the audience a sense that the world hasn’t become solely about the drugs and the crimes that Frank has to investigate- paper books still exist, which is contrary to the sad trend we are seeing.
WARNING- this next section contains spoilers, but it is an element of the film I feel inclined to discuss. There is a sci-fi twist, beyond the fact that it is set in the near future. If you would like to be surprised or try to figure it out, stop reading here. As a fan of sci-fi, I love stories of time travel and it was obvious very early on that that plot device was going to be used in this film. It is subtle, but very cool and thought provoking leading to the aforementioned ambiguous ending. The characters discuss the theory that time is like a river that you can’t really alter, and I watched it thinking it was going to be a type of predestination paradox (the flashes in the elevator also lent to that theory); yet the final scenes lead me to think that the whole movie could potentially be different if it were to continue.