Command Z by Steven Soderbergh [7/10]

Steven Soderbergh directs a recent “movie” with a startling structure and provenance, an outing that delights and intrigues. A maybe-utopian, maybe-dystopian science fiction fable set in July 2023, Command Z is watchable from its own website for a US$8 fee, and parses as eight short episodes accumumulating to the normal length of a film. Michael Cera is scarily certain yet implacable (but also playful) as the AI version of a recently dead billionaire who tasks a motley crew of ordinary employees—a naive enthusiast, a jaded materialist, and a cynical radical—with saving the world by jumping into the minds of people who can influence “evil geniuses” (the title of the 2020 nonfiction book by Kurt Andersen, one the film’s three co-writers) fucking up the world, thereby altering the path of history. The film’s set is primitive and stage-like, yet uncomfortably believable. JJ Maley, Roy Wood, Jr., and Chloe Radcliffe are superb as jiving, jousting psychic adventurers. Under Soderbergh’s direction and a fine script, the movie uncannily segues between tones of simplistic futurism, dead-serious climate crisis debate, and nifty plot twisting. Command Z is an intoxicating brew quite unlike any other I have seen this year, and heartily recommended.

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