3 Blind Mice (2003)
“See how they run”
Director: Mathias Ledoux
Cast: Edward Furlong, Emilia Fox, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Synopsis: Thomas is a young computer specialist who spends most of his time on the net. He logs regularly on Cathy’s site and apparently runs a very strong – but platonic – relationship …
3 Blind Mice is only an update on Hitchcock’s Rear Window in that the protagonists in both pictures are voyeurs who would be looked upon with distaste by most people if they existed outside of a movie screen. This movie, of course, is a pale imitation of Hitchcock’s classic, but there is, at least, one aspect in which it outscores it — the character of its leading man is at least consistent with the nasty little habits he possesses. Thomas Cross, the ‘hero’ of this movie, is a sallow-faced, baggy-eyed, sartorially-challenged Billy-No-Mates: the kind of harmless lowlife who you could easily imagine passing his evenings — before the rise of the internet — furtively peering between the curtains of old women’s bedrooms.
Cross is played by Edward Furlong, who admirably makes no effort to elevate the character he plays above the somewhat necessarily seedy demeanour demanded by his role. Cross is a computer programmer with a thing for installing cameras about his workplace so that he can watch female colleagues adjusting their tights, etc. When he’s not ogling the women he works with, he sits alone in front of his computer screen ogling a woman he doesn’t know, courtesy of a web-cam site. One night, however,
having sidestepped a firewall intended to block unwanted visitors, he witnesses the woman’s grisly murder, and quickly finds himself the main suspect (he’s in London and she’s in Holland but what the hell…). Only comely policewoman Claire Bligh (Emilia Fox) believes he is innocent and, when she is taken off the case and it is closed unsolved, she enlists the help of Mark Hayward (Chiwetel Ejiofor), another (less nerdy) techie, and it is this trio that makes up the three blind mice of the title.
There’s an intriguing idea behind the story, but it’s one that needs a surer hand than that of unknown director Mathias Ledoux, and a much larger budget to match its undeniable ambition. It does manage to avoid the problem of many movies in which computers play a large part, in that we aren’t faced with interminable scenes of people tapping away on their keyboards with expressions that match the content of the message that their disembodied voices speak, but unfortunately, this flick doesn’t have a lot more going for it. You get the impression it’s supposed to be making some great statement about the intrusion of surveillance in the modern age (every other scene is viewed via CCTV, web-cam, fish-eye, rear-view mirror, etc — a device which grows increasingly irritating as the story unfolds) but what that statement is — other than the obvious ‘Big Brother is Watching’ one — escapes me. The story itself is confusing at best, and not a little mystifying; it hints at government involvement in the snuff site Cross has stumbled across, but fails to develop this part of the story sufficiently, and seems to discard it completely in favour of a rooftop shootout finale that falls terribly flat, and contains some terrible dialogue.
Emilia Fox is fetching as the female cop, although it is impossible to believe that she would fall for the non-existent charms of a scrawny geek like Cross. There’s absolutely no chemistry between the couple, which makes their eventual spot of rumpy — in front of the omnipresent web-cam, of course — both unbelievable and uninteresting. There’s a fair amount of female nudity in the film, mostly via grainy web-cam images, and you can’t help feeling it has been inserted to pander to the whims of the juvenile loner (who will probably never in their life get near to the real thing, and — at 14-17 years of age — already know it) at whom the movie seems to be aimed. Somehow, however, I can’t picture even these forlorn figures believing that — yes! — they finally have a hero figure.
Going back to the terrible dialogue, this movie gets my vote for the best unintentionally funny scene of 2003: having seen an intruder she has shot plummet from the window of her third-or-fourth floor flat window and land on a car below, the naked Miss fox leans out of the window and asks a passer-by, “is he dead?” “I don’t know,” replies our witless bystander, “he’s moaning.”