Cypher (2002)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German title Cypher
Original title Cypher
Country of production USA , Canada
original language English
Publishing year 2002
length 95 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Vincenzo Natali
script Brian King
production Wendy Grean ,
Paul Federbush
music Michael Andrews
camera Derek Rogers
cut Bert Kish

Cypher is an American-Canadian thriller story directed by Vincenzo Natali from 2002 . The focus is on the character Morgan Sullivan , who is hired as an agent by the technology company Digicorp . The main roles are played by Jeremy Northam and Lucy Liu . The film was shown in only a few cinemas in the United States and released on DVD on August 2, 2005. In Germany, the film was shown for the first time on July 28, 2003 as part of the Fantasy Film Festival .


Morgan Sullivan is applying to Digicorp Technologies as an industrial spy. He passes the admission procedure and is discontinued. He should attend congresses, record them and send them to Digicorp. He is also given a new identity: Jack Thursby, resident in San José , California . When he was flying to his first conference, he met Rita Foster in a hotel bar. On the return flight, Finster, his contact at Digicorp, reports that the broadcast of the congress went well and that his next assignment is already planned. Shortly after talking to Finster, he was plagued by bad headaches and visions.

His second assignment takes him to Omaha , Nebraska . When he wakes up at night, he hears noises in the hallway. It is Rita who asks him not to turn on his transmitter this time. She also gives him a box of pills for headaches and nightmares. At the congress he follows the instructions. On the return flight he learns that the transmission worked perfectly and that he will be sent to the next congress. When he arrives at the hotel, Rita tells him that all of the conference participants are prospective Digicorp agents and that they are drugged. Ultimately, the congresses are just a facade for brainwashing. Sullivan then has her inject an antidote to Digicorp's drugs.

At the convention, he watches the others and realizes that they are actually being influenced by the drugs. Everyone gets a helmet and brainwashing begins. Sullivan is suggested that his real name is Jack Thursby and not Morgan Sullivan. However, the antidote protects him from brainwashing. After he has passed the test of whether he really thinks he is Jack Thursby, he falls asleep on the flight and wakes up in his "new" house. His new life as Jack Thursby begins with an interview at Sunways Systems. To his astonishment, he is informed that the company has hired an agent from Sebastian Rooks who falls through the Digicorp brainwashing process to find out how Digicorp can smuggle in agents at Sunways undetected and what information Digicorp is interested in. Sullivan is hired as a double agent to do counter-espionage. He is also warned urgently about Rita Foster, who is one of Sebastian Rooks' top agents.

Sullivan's task for Sunways is to drive to various Sunways agents and compare data with them, with this data being deliberately passed to Digicorp. When he realizes that this is not the job, he asks Rita for help. She explains to him that all of this only serves to prepare him for his final task in the Sunways data archive. Digicorp should believe that it has hit the main prize. Rita gives him a disc that looks like the one from Sunways and instructs him to swap the discs. Sullivan would like to see her again after the vault visit, but she refuses because otherwise the new identity that Rooks is trying to create for him would be compromised. The next evening, Morgan makes his way to the data vault. He calls a taxi and realizes too late that the driver is Dark from Digicorp. On the drive, he reveals to him that he was hired by Rooks to smuggle Sullivan into Digicorp and that Rooks' original idea was to use a fake double agent at Sunways to get into the data archive in order to steal a file. Finster only played along to get to the data himself. He was loyal to Digicorp all along. Finster promises him that if Sullivan cooperates, he can protect him from rooks.

The access to the data vault is deep underground. Sunways's data officer, Virgil Dunn, picks him up and they both take the elevator down to the vault, where Sullivan has to undergo a security check. Dunn shows Sullivan into his office and receives Rooks' disk from him. When Sullivan is exposed, Dunn draws his gun. Sullivan knocks him down, takes the disc, and leaves the vault. Dunn gets back on his feet faster than expected and Sullivan can get into the elevator just in time. Just before the surface, the elevator stops and Sullivan climbs out, hoping to reach the surface via the service ladder. But the door to the surface is locked. However, Rita seems to have been expecting Sullivan and blows a hole in the door. Together they both fly to Rook's headquarters in a helicopter. While still in the helicopter, Sullivan passes the disk to Rita.

Arriving at headquarters, Rita leads Sullivan into a room where he is supposed to meet Rooks. Sullivan becomes suspicious when Rita leaves the room and locks the door. He calls Finster and Finster promises to come to his aid. When Rita returns, he threatens her with Dunn's gun and threatens to destroy the correct disk, because he handed her the Sunway disk in the helicopter. When Rita tries to take the disc, a shot goes off and her shoulder is injured. Rita reveals to him that he is Sebastian Rooks. She explains to him that the character of Morgan Sullivan was not real and that he, Sebastian Rooks, just made up the whole story in order to get this one file from Sunways. She does not know the content of the file.

Finster has meanwhile penetrated the headquarters, but Callaway, the head of security at Sunways, is now in the building. Sullivan and Rita flee over the roof to the helicopter. In the helicopter, Rook's memory returns and he starts the helicopter. Finster and Callaway can only see the helicopter behind. When they realize that Sullivan is Rooks, a remote-controlled explosive device explodes, killing them.

Rooks alias Sullivan and Rita sail into the evening sun on a two-master. Rooks puts the disc in his notebook and shows Rita what is on the disc: It not only contains all of Rita's life data, but also her order to eliminate it. The file in the Sunways data safe was deleted and this disc is the only remaining copy. Rooks throws the disc into the sea.


It was only eight months between Vincenzo Natali first read the script and the start of shooting. Natali found a financier for Cypher very quickly in Los Angeles , because a strike by the scriptwriters and actors was in the air and this meant that the donors had to produce quickly. As a result, the financiers did not have much time to check script changes or to make Natali instructions. The original working title of the film was "Company Man". However, it was discarded when another film with the same title was released a few weeks earlier.

The film starts out almost in black and white and the further the story goes, the more colors are used. The color scheme was influenced on the one hand by the lighting on the set, the clothing and the makeup. However, the film only got its final look after digital color correction. The entire film was shot in Toronto , Canada, the hometown of Vincenzo Natali. This even applies to the final sequence on the water. A total of 80 percent of the film was shot "on location" and only 20 percent in the studio. Only 35 days of filming were estimated to keep the costs within reasonable limits. The film ended up costing $ 7.5 million.

For post-production , the film was first completely digitized and then post-processed. The company CORE then created or improved the film material in 206 places using CGI . For example, the helicopter in the film was created entirely with the computer. Models or the like were not made. The film was shot on 35mm film .


The film was released in two versions on DVD . As a single disc and as a special edition (2 DVDs), which in addition to the extras of the single disc and a. Includes a making-of , audio commentary , interviews and a short film by Vincenzo Natali .


“High-tech thriller with a claustrophobic mood and Orwellian surveillance atmosphere , which asks questions about the truth of the obvious, whereby the shiny social surfaces can hardly be penetrated and the original and fake can no longer be distinguished. Fascinating over long distances, told in the form of a monochrome surreal dream. "


Sitges Festival Internacional de Cinema de Catalunya 2002

  • Award for best actor to Jeremy Northam
  • Nomination in the category Best Film for Vincenzo Natali

Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2003

  • Golden raven for Vincenzo Natali

Fantastic postage 2003

  • International Fantasy Film Award for Best Actor for Jeremy Northam
  • International Fantasy Film Award for Best Special Effects for Bret Culp and Bob Munroe
  • International Fantasy Film Special Jury Award for Vincenzo Natali
  • Nomination for the International Fantasy Film Award in the category Best Film for Vincenzo Natali

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Certificate of Release for Cypher . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , August 2003 (PDF; test number: 94 891 V / DVD).
  2. Cypher. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used