Blu-ray Review: David Cronenberg’s CRIMES OF THE FUTURE Lacks Shock Factor

3 out of 5 stars
It’s been almost 25 years since David Cronenberg dabbled with his trademark body horror in Existenz. Since then, Cronenberg has mainly focused his efforts on dark dramas, but now the Canadian auteur returns to his roots with Crimes Of The Future. A squishy body-horror/sci-fi hybrid from the genre master, this very much feels like a companion piece to 1998’s Existenz – in fact, it was actually written shortly after that film was made. However, it feels like Cronenberg is going through the motions with the same old themes. It’s not bad, but it just needs a stronger motor to drive the plot forward.
Set in the near future when humans have begun to develop additional organs and body parts, Crimes Of The Future follows Viggo Mortensen‘s Saul Tenser, an artist who showcases the removal of his new organs in artsy public performances. Tenser is aided by his assistant and lover, Caprice (Léa Seydoux) and the pair are something of a celebrity couple in the world of body art. Timlin (Kristen Stewart), an investigator from the National Organ Registry then comes into their orbit. Assigned to keep track of the accelerated growth of human organs, she becomes obsessed with Tenser and his work. All this happens as Tenser is also working for the government, assisting them in tracking down a group of radical body revolutionaries.
Those familiar with Cronenberg’s oeuvre will appreciate how Crimes Of The Future fits nicely beside some of his past films. Sex, technology, the body and art intertwine, while the plot also incorporates environmentalism and the overabundance of plastic littering the globe. This is prescient stuff, made all the more impressive because the script was written two decades ago. But, nothing really hangs together with any urgency or drive. What impresses in Crimes Of The Future are the performances. Mortensen and Seydoux make for a captivating couple and Stewart delivers good work in a small supporting role. Tanaya Beatty and Nadia Litz also stand out by delivering some light relief as a pair of machine technicians/hitwomen. 
Diverting without ever feeling essential, Crimes Of The Future is David Cronenberg treading water. It’s competently made and good to look at, but it lacks the weight or the shock factor of his finer work. 
Special Features
While Crimes Of The Future might be disappointing, the Blu-ray release from Second Sight does not. It’s an excellent package with plenty of detail which covers the film’s production. First up is a strong commentary by Caelum Vatnsdal and then individual interviews with David Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart.
There’s a video essay titled New Flesh, Future Crimes: The Body from Leigh Singer, a making-of documentary as well as interviews with Producer Robert Lantos, Cinematographer Douglas Koch and Editor Christopher Donaldson. Rounding out the package is the short film, The Death of David Cronenberg. Excellent.