Jackrabbit can mean to run or take flight quickly it can refer to roller coasters it is computer server software, and of course a big footed group of bunnies named by Mark Twain in his round about way. Rebellion is usually quite a personal thing and this tiny little indie movie gives us a chance to see how personal it can get in a different setting than your everyday movie does. Jackrabbit throws the viewer right into the middle of this post collapse Orwellian society, We enter City 6 twenty five years after some great catastrophe that turned out the lights for everyone everywhere.
The glory of this newly rebuilt civilization is that they have power, and are re-purposing the old dead machines, and tech to create something like a steam punk frankensteining of parts creating better new machines. And the death of one man brings together our two main protagonists Max played broodingly by Ian Christopher Noel, and Simon brought suspiciously to life by Josh Caras. There is a bond between these two characters that outside forces are acting upon and the eventual outcome they are working together for, might just be someone else’s plan all along.
The citizens of the city are all under constant surveillance, and subject to many of what we today would consider violations of their civil rights. There are cameras in every corner and in every home. The only thing that anyone is supposed to listen to are the speakers everywhere pumping out steady propaganda. Nightly you hear the wail of the sirens letting everyone know that curfews are in effect. Everyone is heavily medicated to ensure maximum compliance with the rules.
This movie is a blend of Orwell’s 1984 of course, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil in its postmodern (only not) dreamy ethereal feel, and either Logan’s Run for the endless optimism in the belief that this city is not the only thing there is, that in fact there must be more out there than this. Told extremely well by this talented small cast, on assuredly a very small budget. Not to say we do not meet some other characters and feel for some of them even. Seeing an act of rebellion be something a simple as not listening or listening to something else instead. The speed that you can break a heart which has known no joy for so long by taking that joy away too soon after finally getting that taste of hope. Poor Grace played very well by Joslyn Jensen.
We first brought into the story with a scene of Simon taking a test in a job interview with VOPO Technologies (rebuilding the future today) in which we see the most advanced tech which is the heart of the city, and where the protective firewall is maintained. The rest of the time most of what we see is a broken down world full of broken down people. The first half of the movie you really never see anyone of authority outside of a middle manager and a car, but like a horror movie that doesn’t actually show you the killing, you still feel their presence. The tech is very retro with CRT (Cathode Ray Tube for the newer among you) monitors showing mostly simple graphic interfaces in green, and monochrome. Even so there are other parties pushing our two friends by default through their shared desire to learn what it was their friend wanted them to know. Someone is hacking in remotely to Max’s computer to ask him questions he does not know the answers to yet. All the while Simon’s new job for VOPO the only corporation who say they are fixing, and defending the city’s firewalls. We are shown how it is changing his opinions, and possibly his views. Or is he the one influencing them? This is not a hint just a possibility.
I saw the ending coming, but there was really nowhere else to go without calling it all a lie or a dream. The journey was enough to keep me interested in the story, and the characters though things got stale a lot, and there are some points that really dragged on. Even so I really liked this movie personally. I liked the characters as I have said, I liked the way the production was able to feel larger than it was, and the feeling of the city they present. Even the smallest players were committed to their rolls, and felt real. I really was worried at times that they were going to just give up on the story, and not have an ending. Or worse make it magic or some other nonsense, but they held on to the idea and gave it life.
To sum up I would recommend this to people who like indie, and movies that work hard to keep you off balance. If you don’t mind long quiet scenes where all you are doing is looking at a person’s face as they contemplate their currently shattered existence. But If you didn’t even enjoy that last sentence, then you might want another movie.