Radius, a 2017 Canadian sci-fi thriller, is currently trending on Netflix, but what’s it about and is it worth watching?

What’s it about?: A car crash victim (Diego Klattenhoff) awakes with minor injuries and no idea who he is. As he wanders the roads in search of help, everyone he comes into contact with keels over and dies right in front of him, their eyes turning white and their bodies drained of all energy. Using the wallet in his back pocket, the man discovers his name is Liam, and he manages to find his home. While hiding there in the hopes of not harming anyone else, a woman (Charlotte Sullivan) comes upon him but somehow doesn’t die. She has amnesia just like him, has minor head wounds from a car crash just like him, and whenever she’s around she seems to cancel out his mysterious powers, as if they were Will Smith and Charlize Theron in Hancock. But who are these people to each other? Why do they have amnesia? And what the heck is up with their powers? Those are the questions they seek to answer together.

Is it worth watching?: Yes; running just south of 90 minutes long, Radius hooks you with an intriguing premise, never lets you relax thanks to its tense score, keeps you engaged due to two strong lead performances, and rewards your patience in the form of various unexpected twists and an emotional finale. The film finally hits a speed bump with an embarrassingly wooden performance from a third party who joins the main two leads in the third act, but that’s not enough to drag the movie down entirely.

Radius is ultimately a testament to what can be accomplished on clearly very little money if you have a good story hook and two solid leads. Other than one special effects sequence, everything appears to have been accomplished practically in camera, and the setting is limited to scenes in the woods and in various locations throughout one small town. Furthermore, the production’s limited resources likely forced the filmmakers to devise a finale which ups the personal stakes rather than building to a larger-scale conflict, and the movie is all the better for it.

Recommended if you liked: Everything about 10 Cloverfield Lane other than the ending.

THE BOTTOM LINE

A fascinating sci-fi thriller about two amnesiacs with a mysterious effect on one another and history together, Radius registers as better than average for Netflix’s current genre offerings.

CRITICAL CONSENSUS RIGHT NOW

RANDOM PARTING THOUGHTS

  1. Just to be clear: Radius isn’t a Netflix Original, but it might as well be. Also, the title of the film refers to the fact that anyone who comes within a 50ft radius of Liam dies.
  2. The repeated scenes of various extras simply going limp and falling dead to the floor when exposed to Liam makes for a surprisingly effective and eerie visual.
  3. This is the second film from directing duo Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard. Their first effort, 2009’s Sans Dessein, carries the following logline: “A young man is visited by the ghost of his older self in order to change his destiny.”

Have you watched Radius yet? Or have you been eyeing it on Netflix but waiting for someone to tell you if it’s any good? If so, did this review sway you? Or are you still holding out? Let me know in the comments.

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Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

6 Comments

  1. I liked it quite a bit. Though I felt the female lead’s performance lacked depth and range — especially in contrast to the male lead. I had no problem with the 3rd act add’l character.

    Reactions from nearly everyone throughout the movie seemed quite realistic to me.

    Though, I do think telling people who haven’t seen a movie that there’s an interesting twist at the end sort of ruins it for them because now they’re LOOKING for a twist.

    Reply

    1. The fact that there’s a twist at the end of a movie about two amnesiacs with a common car crash experience and newfound supernatural abilities seemed like a given to me.

      I liked both of the leads, but the male lead more so than the female, for exactly the reasons you specified. He displays a bit more range, but, to be fair, for the majority of the film more range is asked of him than of her.

      Main problem with third act new character was his instant and almost unabating hostility and ongoing reluctance to actually believe Jane when she keeps saying, essentially, “What part of this aren’t you getting? I have amnesia!”

      Reply

      1. Fair point about the twist — though to the extent that’s true, it negates the value of even mentioning that there’s a twist. 🙂

        For a woman with amnesia and seeing the craziness around that guy, she just seemed to take an awful lot in stride, which didn’t feel real to me. Though she did have some wonderful and very believable reactions, too.

        As for the 3rd act guy, I can certainly see how hard it would be for him to accept. His missing wife — with whom he’d been fighting — shows up with a handsome stranger? And she seems perfectly fine except for her claim of amnesia? Yeah, I can see how he’d war with doubt and anger about that.

      2. And, now to return the courteousness, fair point on the 3rd act guy. The set of emotions you described are believable; I just didn’t totally believe them coming from that particular actor.

        The girl certainly took a lot in stride, and the actress doesn’t always 100% convincingly portray that. However, like you said, she’s also wildly believable in other parts of the movie, and some of her reactions are priceless and, by the end, heartbreaking.

      3. –> “and, by the end, heartbreaking.”

        THIS!

  2. […] not quite the junky B-movie of The Cloverfield Paradox or Bright nor the noir weirdness of Mute or Radius. It’s most certainly not the zany social commentary of Okja,and it’s absolutely not on the […]

    Reply

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