VFX wizard Seth Larney’s (‘The Matrix Reloaded’ and ‘Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith’) second directorial venture, the high-concept science fiction film ‘2067’ pulsates with ambition and optimism from beginning to end of its nearly 154-minute runtime. The Australian film clearly doesn’t have the budget of a typical Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster, but the depth it lacks in the pockets of its producers is easily compensated with the daring vision of its director. There have been plenty of messiah-like characters in films that are thematically similar to ‘2067’, for instance ‘Interstellar’ and ‘Twelve Monkeys’. What is unique about Ethan Whyte (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is his sheer ordinariness and how he eventually utilizes the same trait as a hero for the entire humanity. SPOILERS AHEAD.
2067 Plot Summary
Set in the eponymous year, the film depicts a dystopian world in which humanity is close to extinction. With the complete disappearance of the trees, the natural oxygen doesn’t exist any longer. People must rely on its synthetic variation, but because of its exorbitant price, the poor can hardly afford it. The first half of the film takes place in the only city in the world in which electricity is still available. Ethan lost his parents quite early in his life. His father apparently killed himself not long before his wife’s death in a shooting incident. Since then, he has been brought up by Jude (Ryan Kwanten), a man whom Ethan regards as his older brother. Ethan’s wife, Xanthe (Sana’a Shaik), has a condition known simply as The Sickness, which gradually makes a victim’s body unable to process the artificial oxygen. Ethan and Jude work at the world’s only active nuclear power plant. Ethan’s apparently normal if bleak existence is interrupted when the corporation that he works for tells him that he is needed to save the world.
Ethan is told by the company that his father was working on a time machine, which gives them access to a particular point in time 407 years into the future. Initially, they sent out radio waves through the machine. When they returned, they carried the encrypted message that asks them to send Ethan to the future. The contemporary people come to believe that if humanity still exists several hundred years later, it is likely that they have found solutions to all the problems plaguing their reality. They think that people of the future want to share their scientific advancements with them, so they can save more victims of the oxygen shortage. As for Ethan himself, he is very skeptical of all this. But ultimately also knows that his world is dying, and so is his wife, and this is perhaps the only chance he will get to save both. So he bids farewell to Xanthe and Jude and travels to the future.
The time-traveling scene is an innovative composition of close shots and special effects. When Ethan reaches his destination in 2474, with only an A.I. device, named Archie, for company, he finds that the world has completely changed. Humanity seems to have truly gone from the world, and in its absence, the Earth finally had some time to heal itself. The trees are back, and with them, the natural oxygen. But Ethan’s mission is rapidly turning out to be a failure as he hasn’t been able to locate the person who sent back the message. Furthermore, as the original plan was for Ethan to seek local help to get back to his time, he is basically stuck there.
After he mistakenly eats a poisonous berry and begins hallucinating, Jude arrives from the past and saves his life. He later explains that he saw Ethan’s heart stop after he had consumed the berry, prompting him to travel to the future. Together, they find the source of the encoded message, which turns out to be the same facility from where they left in the past. After confirming Ethan’s identity by DNA analysis through the bracelet-like device his father had given him all those years ago, the time machine gets activated, giving Ethan and Jude four hours until they can travel back to the past. Ethan is increasingly confused by all this. He checks the system log of the time machine, and a hologram of his father appears before them to explain that there is a weather monitoring device embedded in the time machine that is programmed to send the data back to the past when the world becomes habitable once more. As the log continues, Ethan watches his father receiving the message about him from the future.
The Skeletal Remains of Ethan Whyte
Not long after he arrives in the future, Ethan discovers the skeletal remains of a man wearing the same jacket as him. He even finds an old and barely functional Archie beside him. There is a bullet-shaped hole in his skull, indicating that whoever this man was, his end had been violent. The last recording on his Archie seems to support this. Ethan is horrified, believing that this is the fate that awaits him. When Jude arrives and sees the remains, he dismisses Ethan’s fears, claiming that he has already saved his life from the poison.
As the system starts having electrical problems, they come to know that they have to fix the nuclear reactor. They then make their way through the ruined and desolate city. It is then that Ethan suddenly realizes that it is Jude’s voice that can be heard in old Archie’s recording before the other Ethan is killed. It is later revealed that he will shoot him after they get back to the past. Regina (Deborah Mailman), the high-ranking executive who recruited Ethan for the mission, is behind all this. The log reveals that she plans to leave her time with a few others and settle in the future when the Earth has finished recuperating. She killed Ethan’s father when he refused to do her bidding and told Jude to kill Ethan’s mother and then take care of Ethan as his blood is the only key that can unlock the time machine in the future. Confronted by his own guilt, Jude kills himself.
The Encoded Message
Ethan eventually comes to understand that he is the one who sends that message to the past, triggering everything that happens afterward. He sends the message, and then hundreds of plants through the time machine, before destroying it. Back in the past, humanity gets a second chance as with those plants, ecological regeneration can be started. Ethan also sends the footage of Regina murdering his father and a real flower for Xanthe. The film ends on an incredibly high note. Ethan can sense that something is changing around him. When he goes to investigate, he finds in place of the desolate and ruined city, stands a sprawling and lush-green metropolis.
Read More: Where is 2067 Filmed?