We have met the enemy, and he has a Facebook account.
That's the premise of Disconnect, a high-tech horror story in which the monster is your fellow man armed with a keyboard. The movie is so discomfiting, it may make you want to hurl your laptop and smartphone against the nearest brick wall. (Maybe typewriters and landlines weren't so bad after all.)
Built around several seemingly separate but ultimately interconnected stories, Disconnect will earn comparisons to Crash. Yet unlike Crash, which was merely hysteria posing as a movie, Disconnect tempers its more over-the-top moments with a real sense of tension and emotion.
Jason Bateman is Rich Boyd, a well-regarded media lawyer with a seemingly perfect family, except for his exceedingly introverted son, Ben (Jonah Bobo). Ben is picked on at school by Jason (Colin Ford), a kid who creates a fake online profile as a girl in order to get Ben to humiliate himself online.
Meanwhile, Jason's dad, Mike (Frank Grillo), is a former cop turned computer sleuth who investigates Internet crime. His latest case involves Derek (Alexander Skarsgard) and Cindy Hull (Paula Patton), a couple who find themselves in financial free fall after their identities are stolen. Their marriage, already shaken to the foundation after the death of their baby, threatens to come apart.
So, who's the culprit? Is it the guy Cindy has been chatting with and confiding in through a website for those dealing with the loss of a loved one? Or maybe it's because of the gambling sites Derek visits?
Finally, there's ambitious TV reporter Nina Dunham (Andrea Riseborough), who thinks she has found her ticket to journalism stardom with a story on underage kids working at porn websites. But she finds things aren't so simple as she gets involved in the life of one of the boys, Kyle (Max Thieriot).
Directed by Henry Alex Rubin (who last made the compelling documentary about paraplegic athletes, Murderball, eight years ago) from a script by Andrew Stern, Disconnect does ratchet up the melodrama in its climax. And, as a warning shot, it may be a decade too late. The technological genie is out of the bottle.
But the way Disconnect intertwines the stories, summons strong performances from Bateman, Skarsgard, Ford and Bobo, and doesn't wrap up everything neatly saves it from sinking under the heavy weight of being a single-minded message movie.
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