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Extracted

Year: 2012
Production Co: New Artists Alliance
Director: Nir Paniry
Writer: Nir Paniry

While so much of the marketing around Pixar's Inside Out was about how the filmmakers engaged neurologists to school them in how memory formation really works, Extracted feels like the creative brains behind it either had a deeper understanding of such science or wanted to feature it more heavily.

Inventor Tom is designing and building a machine that can let one's consciousness enter other people's memories when he's approached with an offer to fund the final stages of his research that's too good to be true – money and resources in exchange for giving up his principles and letting the government use it.

When he caves in against his better judgment, their first test is for Tom to enter into the mind of a comatose accused murderer to investigate the claims the guy didn't kill his drug-addled girlfriend.

Once inside, Tom ends up stuck, his own body lying in a hospital bed while his wife and child wait desperately for him to come back. In order to get out (and I can't remember the mechanics of it, so it didn't make as deep an impression as the mind rules of a film like Inception) he has to contact and work with the consciousness of his host – literally walking around scenes from memories with the guy like they're in some advanced virtual reality program – to find out what really happened.

If you liked Primer this is a good sci-fi flick for you – it sets up and delivers some great genre ideas on a low budget. Details in the accused killers' memories that he can't quite pin down, like the cover of a magazine or what was on TV, are visualised by big red X's, and the effort to escape eventually becomes a race to identify all the missing pieces.

The execution isn't perfect – there's something about the lead actor that looks out of place for the role, and the story isn't always as cleanly coherent as other films like it (again, like Inception) where the rules of the world are a little more polished.

But it's an interesting take on the mechanics of memory and the mind that allows for an effective, high stakes thriller to be built in.

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