Warning (2021) poster

Warning (2021)


Poland/USA. 2021.


Director – Agata Alexander, Screenplay – Agata Alexander, Jason Kaye & Rob Michaelson, Producers – Staszek Dziedzic & Cybill Lui Eppich, Photography – Jakub Kijowski, Music – Gregory Tripi, Visual Effects – Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies (Supervisor – Jeff Bruneel), Special Effects – SFXPro (Supervisors – Maciej Bienkowski & Pawel Kopka), Production Design – Jagna Dobesz. Production Company – Anova Pictures/Film Produkcja/Studio Mao/Lost Lane/The Exchange/Needle’s Eye Productions/Particular Crowd/Polski Instytut Sztuki Filowej (Polish Film Institute).


Thomas Jane (David). Rupert Everett (Charlie), Tomasz Kot (Brian), Toni Garrn (Olivia). Alice Eve (Claire Larry), James D’Arcy (The Voice of God). Patrick Schwarzenegger (Ben), Kyie Bunbury (Anna). Annabelle Wallis (Nina), Alex Pettyfer (Liam), Annabel Mullion (Dora), Richard Pettyfer (Ron), Garance Marillier (Magda), Sebastian Perdek (Pawel), Blu Mantic (Andrzej), Olga Boladz (Lara). Charlotte Le Bon (Charlotte).


David is an astronaut conducting a repair job on a satellite when an accident sets him adrift in space. Claire is a dutiful devotee of the electronic religious service God 2.0 but an update kills the unit and leaves her having to rely on traditional methods of prayer. Ben uses Virtual Reality to spy on his ex Anna. Nina visits the family of her boyfriend Liam but there is tension between them in that they can afford an immortality program and she cannot. Pawel has signed up for a program where his mind is temporarily switched into the body of the teenage Magda but things proceed to go wrong when Magda is dragged out for a night of partying by a clerk at the hotel.

Warning is a Polish-made SF film, albeit US co-produced and importing a number of recognisable actors, as well as shooting in English in order to give it wider recognition value. It was a directorial debut for Polish director Agata Alexander who had previously worked in music video.

It soon becomes apparent that Warning is intended as a variant on tv’s Black Mirror (2011- ). Just as Black Mirror does, it in effect holds up a mirror to show various aspects of technology and contemporary trends extruded into often nightmarish future scenarios. The major difference is where Black Mirror tells a different story each episode in a tv anthology series format, Warning tells multiple stories in a single film, weaving them together and having some of them overlapping and connected.

With the film telling seven stories within an 86-minute runtime, some of the stories are so brief they end up being underwhelming. There is a piece near the start with an unrecognisable Rupert Everett as a rundown android that keeps cracking lame jokes that goes nowhere – you wonder why it didn’t end up being dropped. It is the same case with the scenes where the asteroid appears out of nowhere at the end, although these at least tie in with the equally brief opening scenes with Thomas Jane as a stranded astronaut to reach a reasonable melancholy ending. The story with Patrick Schwarzenegger using Virtual Reality to somehow stalk his ex is far too brief and needed more explanations about what is going on.

Alice Eve with God 2.0 in Warning (2021)
Alice Eve with God 2.0 in the film’s best episode

The most appealing of the episodes and the one that gets the Black Mirror vibe perfectly (and would have made for a great Black Mirror episode in its own right) is the story with Alice Eve as a woman who has subscribed to the commercial service God 2.0, a computer that offers all religious functions including a voice that replies to prayers, offers inspirational quotes and nags her when she has conducted a sin. The problem occurs when a set of updates kills off the computer, leaving Alice being shuffled between a nightmare of customer service reps who offer unhelpful advice like “try praying manually?” before a replacement unit is delivered but turns out to be one that broadcasts ads unless one upgrades to the premium service.

Also worthwhile is the episode where Annabelle Wallis joins her boyfriend Alex Pettyfer in a visit to his family home. The family come from wealth and are able to afford immortality treatments, while she is not and is doomed to a mortal lifespan. They look down on her with evident disdain, telling her such a relationship will never work, before he announces that he is going to join her in leading a normal lifespan. The episode ends with her returning from stepping outside for a cigarette break to find that they have hooked him up to a machine to wipe his memory and he no longer recognises her. This is an undeniably effective story but is given far too short a room in its telling to work as effectively as you felt it could have as a longer piece.

The other effective episode is the one that comes towards the end where middle-aged Sebastian Perdek signs into a hotel room where we see him placing a series of vibrators and sex toys out on the bedside table and wonder what is going on. We then find that he has paid for a service that allows him to swap his mind into the body of a teenage girl (Garance Marillier). In her body, he is then dragged out to a night of partying by one of the hotel’s employees, which goes sideways when others are invited back to the room. This creates a good set up and a series of complications but peters out at an ending that never goes anywhere.

Trailer here

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