TIFF Next Wave: Boy 7
Sam (Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen) wakes up on a crowded subway with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. After a confrontation with the police reveals that he possesses above average combat abilities, the confused teenager sets out to uncover his true identity. Aided by the mysterious Lara (Ella-June Henrard), a fellow teen who also has no memory of her life prior to getting on the train, and the notebook in his backpack, Sam’s quest proves difficult when he is linked to a murder which he does not remember committing.
Continuing the recent trend of young adult films set within a dystopian world, where governments infringe on personal freedoms in the name of the greater good, Boy 7 will no doubt evoke comparisons to films like Divergent and The Hunger Games. While the similarities are prevalent, the film has more than enough going for it to distinguish itself from the pack. In fact, Lourens Blok’s film feels more like a teen mash-up of La Femme Nikita and The Bourne Identity, than it does anything else. Unlike its contemporaries in the genre, Boy 7 is surprisingly grounded. Blok creates a futuristic police state in the Netherlands that could easily be transplanted into any modern country today.
The film ponders if society is on the path to becoming a mass of mindless puppets who allow political puppeteers to pull its strings without question. By playing into current fears about governments using the war on terror as an excuse to abuse their power, Blok packs plenty of suspense into the film’s brisk running time.
Though stylishly constructed, Boy 7 is not without its share of predictable moments. The film dips into the well of traditional genre tropes a little too often at times. Fortunately, the film’s cast manages to make up for the shortcomings in the plot. Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen is quite good in the lead role, bringing both an intensity and confidence to the role. However, the real secret weapon in Blok’s arsenal of actors is Halina Reijn. Playing the role of Marit, an instructor at a government run rehabilitation institute who challenges Sam to reach his full potential as a hacker, Reijn manages to bring surprising depth and heart to the role. She serves as a nice contrast to Tygo Gernandt’s ruthless drill sergeant Zero who also teaches at the institute.
A worthy addition to the dystopian young adult canon of films, Boy 7 is a film that should find a solid following amongst fans of the genre. Mixing timely themes with edge of your seat suspense, Boy 7 is an entertaining ride.
Sunday, February 15, 5:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox