Review by Sean Boelman
Robert Hloz’s dystopian science fiction noir Restore Point recently debuted at Karlovy Vary, where it was one of the biggest breakouts of the lineup. The film is one of the most impressively grand indies of the year, with amazing production values that would stack up against most bigger-budget Hollywood movies that are released these days.
Restore Point is set in a futuristic dystopia where people can be “restored” after they die thanks to a system in which their consciousness is backed up. A detective investigates the case of a murdered couple whose deaths might have connections to a scandal involving the company behind the restoration process.
The most impressive aspect of the film is without a doubt its world-building. Tomislav Cecka and Zdenek Jecelin take this somewhat simple concept and expand it into a sci-fi world that feels massive. Beyond the main story, the movie also allows us to explore some of this world in which violence has become almost meaningless.
The production value on Restore Point is truly insane. Comparisons to epic sci-fi movies like Blade Runner and Minority Report are certainly earned because of its great production design and visual effects. Considering that this is the first Czech sci-fi in 40 years, per the Fantasia description, it’s impressive the scale at which this was made.
Cecka and Zdenek’s script asks what are pretty much the expected questions about mortality when you have a premise like this. However, there are also some really provocative themes in the film about the commercialization of healthcare and how Big Pharma companies have become extremely corrupt to make money.
The mystery that unfolds hits a lot of familiar beats, but it’s engaging enough to keep viewers interested. Admittedly, it would have been nice to see this concept used on a story that is more original, but as far as sci-fi noirs go, this has everything it needs to work: plenty of twists and turns, a compellingly disillusioned heroine, and plenty of wild supporting characters to be investigated.
Andrea Mohylová’s performance in the leading role is fantastic, perfectly capturing the gruffness of a noir protagonist — and she only has a few television credits before this, making it even more impressive. In the supporting cast, Matej Hádek gives a strong turn as the protagonist’s amnesiac sidekick, bringing a surprising amount of emotion to a role that is complex and purposefully distant.
Restore Point is a solid sci-fi flick elevated to excellent level thanks to above-average production qualities and excellent world-building. The fact that this is playing at a genre-specific festival like Fantasia, and not a broader showcase — something on the level of TIFF — is frankly shocking.
Restore Point screened at the 2023 Fantasia Film Festival, which runs from July 20 to August 9.