Reelz is doing its damnedest to one-up Syfy in the cheap sci-fi disaster movie field. Recent stuff like Ring of Fire and CAT. 8 have proven Reelz is committed to the genre. Now comes Delete, which further hammers home the “we’re all going to die” point.
In Delete the world is threatened by a wave of suspicious computer hacking. Iran nearly suffers a meltdown at one of its nuclear power plants. And a U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile test goes awry, sending a warhead into a nice playground in San Francisco. The NSA suspects mysterious computer hacktivist group “Dubito.” That theory kind of falls to the wayside when all the members are suddenly assassinated. Turns out our worst fears have been realized: The Internet has come to life and is trying to kill us. ... What? Nobody else is worried about that happening?
Despite the fact that dedicated, young investigative newspaper reporters are as rare as unicorns these days, we’ve got one as our protagonist. Jessica Taylor (Erin Karpluk, of the CBC show “Being Erica”) has written several articles about computer hackers and believes she’s got the inside track on this story. She teams up with teenage computer nerd Daniel Garson (Keir Gilchrist, “The United States of Tara”) to figure out what’s going on. They figure it out pretty damn quickly, but it takes a bit of work to convince G-man Gil Bellows (“Ally McBeal”) and NSA consultant Matt Frewer (Max Headroom himself!) that a self-aware computer program known as the Singularity is trying to wipe out all of humanity. A few exploding cell phones, a couple of compromised nuclear missiles and some hijacked oil tankers are enough to convince the bigwigs. Now everybody’s just got to figure out how to stop an enemy that can control every electronic device on Earth.
Delete does a “copy and paste” of WarGames, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and “Person of Interest.” But it manages to do it in a relatively entertaining way. Director Steve Barron (helmer of 1984’s Electric Dreams, 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a whole lot of early MTV videos) does his damnedest to make the film look good. Crazy camera angles, a variety of video recording styles and a bit of fun with the on-screen text keeps the film zesty to watch. Good thing because Steve has got his work cut out for him. Making computers interesting on screen isn’t easy. Check out the early cyber-thriller The Net (another major influence on Delete). Watching Sandra Bullock sit and type, then run someplace else to sit and type is pretty freaking dull. Delete throws in plenty of exploding cars and crashing trains to keep the energy level high, but the last half of the film still involves a computer nerd trying to counterprogram an artificial intelligence-
The budget isn’t quite enough to project the apocalyptic worldwide chaos the script wants, but this film has got it all over Syfy’s super-scrimpy efforts. It’s no Mission: Impossible III, but it’s no Sharknado either. Which is both a good and a bad thing. Delete is far more professional and far less silly than any disaster Syfy has pinched off in the last few years. But that uptick in quality comes with a downturn in camp value. And what’s a disaster thriller about evil computer programs without a little camp? Delete, that’s what.