“Someone’s fucking with us!”
A competent, handsomely-mounting thriller that would be more at home in the era of fear-of-the-internet flicks like The Net and Hackers, I.T. exists in the ether between entertaining and pointless.
Pierce Brosnan is Mike Regan, an airline tycoon about to launch an app that’s essentially Uber, but for private planes instead of cars. Mike lives in an ultra-modern home that’s wired to be smart and high-tech, even though he can’t really figure out how to even use the coffee machine. Mike’s tech ignorance opens the door to I.T. guy Ed Porter (James Frecheville), who looks like Trent Reznor’s angry kid brother. After Ed assists Mike with some computer glitches during a big presentation, the billionaire invites the I.T. guy back to his house to spruce up all the fiberoptics. A cordial relationship grows between the two, but Ed mistakes a working relationship for something more akin to friendship, and it backfires badly.
Rejected by Mike and his family — wife Rose (Anna Friel, wasted in a “frowning spouse” role) and teen daughter Kaitlin (Stefanie Scott) — Patrick begins to make their lives a living hell by using all that smart tech against them. It all boils down to what is basically a dark remake of the underrated 90s comedy The Cable Guy.
Director John Moore helms it all with as much style as he can muster, but it’s not enough to elevate I.T. above its bargain basement stalker plot. Brosnan makes the most of his performance, growing more and more unhinged and angry as his life falls apart. But Frecheville, as the evil I.T. guy, never once seems particularly threatening. For some reason, Moore fills out his runtime with shots of Frecheville making smoothies or listening to thumping EDM music while staring blankly at screens. It’s about as exciting as it sounds.
I.T. only briefly comes alive late in the film when Brosnan’s Mike reaches out for help from a mysterious “cleaner”, who is like a cross between a computer nerd and a hitman. Played by John Wick villain Michael Nyqvist, this character is the only interesting part of the movie, as Nyqvist plays him with low-key charm that somehow seems both friendly and menacing. The more time you spend with this character, the more you’ll wish the film had been about him instead.
Once Nyqvist’s character exits, I.T. goes back to hoary thriller cliches, with Mike having to save his imperiled family and get the drop on the sniveling Ed. It’s predictable to the extreme. Had I.T. come out some time in the late 1990s, it might’ve been a neat novelty; a not-too-shabby tech-based thriller that seems novel and new. The script, but Dan Kay and William Wisher, throws in some lines about privacy — “Privacy isn’t a right, it’s a privilege!” Ed suggests early on, which probably should sent up a few more red flags for Mike — but the dialogue lands with a thud. In 2016, a film like I.T. already seems obsolete and out-of-date — the cinematic equivalent of a dial-up modem or an AOL installation disc.