Essentially a love story masquerading as a science fiction thriller, Scopers proves something of an arduous watch.

High on talk, but low on any thrills and spills, this is far, far removed from the slick, fast-paced mindbender the plot would suggest.

Actually filmed back in 2011 (under the title Speed Of Thought), Scopers sees Nick Stahl star as the ludicrously named Joshua Lazarus (why can’t anyone in this type of film have a normal name?), one of a group of telepaths being used by the US government to influence foreign figures.

Lazarus and co can enter the mind of pretty much anyone, forcing them to do things against their will if it benefits the US’ interests.

Oh, and Lazarus is also a dab hand at the cards tables, whiling away his days downing booze, playing the tables and bedding hookers.

All that changes though when he comes across Anna (Mia Maestro), the daughter of one of his ‘victims’, who, wouldn’t you know, turns out to be a ‘scoper’ herself.

They pretty quickly hit it off, but danger looms in the fact that scopers have a limited shelf life, with the brain strain expected to see them carted off to the loony bin (or worse) by the age of 29.

Lazarus himself is 28, so with Anna in tow he decides to go on the run, with all and sundry on his tail….

I know that all sounds pretty exciting, but trust me it really, really isn’t.

The plot moves along at a snail’s pace, matched by Stahl’s drifting, weary performance.

Now I’m not one that needs constant bang-for-my-buck, but when so little happens on screen (as it does here), your mind does begin to wander.

Plot revelations are thrown up and then discarded, Wallace Shawn and Blair Brown turn up in ‘are they good guys or bad guys’ roles and director Evan Oppenheimer clearly thought everyone watching would be on the edge of their seat.

Oppenheimer (who also wrote) also skimps on the effects – the ‘scoping’ scenes merely see Stahl and co appear on a black background to signify he has entered their mind.

Now, to be fair, that didn’t really bother me, but it sure seems to have irked some other reviewers I have checked out.

Oppenheimer seems to have tried the theory of chucking ideas from other films together in the hope that something would stick, so we get a bit of Scanners, a bit of Logan’s Run and plenty more you’ll spot pretty easily.

There is the genesis of a solid idea here, and if someone pitched Scopers as an edited-down TV pilot I would have probably bought into it.

But as a full-length feature film this is just far too sluggish to entertain.

VERDICT: [rating=2]

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.