‘Restore Point’ Review: A Richly Satisfying Tale of Science Fiction Noir

Restore Point marks the first purely sci-fi feature out of the Czech Republic in nearly 40 years. Judging by the effectiveness of its central mystery and the moody visual splendor on display, hopefully writer/director Robert Hloz’s first full feature will help start a renaissance of sorts from the country that brought us Milos Forman and Jan Svankmajer.

The day-to-day technological advancements seen in Restore Point eerily resemble what’s happening to our current world in real-time. Apple’s Vision Pro is suddenly getting us closer to the seamless integration of spatial tech into our lives. Although that’s inherently cool for the Rick Deckard wannabes out there, the plot of Restore Point is here to remind us that any life-altering breakthroughs coming around the corner also come with a very high price. In other words, there is always an evil corporation looking to capitalize on and cater to our highest hopes and darkest fears.

In 2041, the gap between the haves and have-nots continues to increase and crime is the new cancer. Everyone seems to know someone who has been directly affected by an escalating series of terrorist attacks carried out by a mysterious collective known as the River of Life. To help combat this new global threat, a scientific breakthrough allows every human being the ability to come back to life after falling victim to a senseless act of violence. The new tech requires people to back up their brains every 48 hours, giving them the chance to respawn after accessing their own “restore point.”

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Agent Em (Andrea Mohylová), a young detective, is tasked with solving a case involving a murdered couple where only the husband can be saved by a restoration team. Suspiciously, the lone survivor is a scientist named Kurstat (Matej Hádek) who happens to be one of the crucial developers who helped create the restoration process in the first place. Together, the two of them set off to track down the supposed murderer leading to a much larger conspiracy.

The story unfolds in typical existential noir fashion that also manages to insert a couple of well-placed horror elements. Kurstat’s second lease on life comes with a cost and his body is dealing with brutal side effects due to something called post-restoration syndrome. Nicknamed “Frankenstein’s disease”, his only existing backup is much older than the recommended 48-hour window. That crucial bit of info allows for a much more intricate procedural to develop dealing with questions surrounding memory loss, false accusations, and possible betrayal.

Comparisons to other examples of imaginative sci-fi that bridge the gap between our current world and the future will inevitably pop up while watching Restore Point. The cyberpunk of Blade Runner or the steampunk of Mutant Chronicles is nowhere to be seen, however. Instead, the visual effects are seamlessly worked into a drab city that looks completely recognizable. The location of the Institute (the corporation that invented restoration) is housed in a Brutalist-inspired bit of architecture that resembles the exterior of OCP Headquarters in Robocop. Restore Point also follows a similar roadmap that could almost exist within the same dystopian landscape seen in Children of Men.

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There’s a criminal underbelly that’s also introduced, depicting a retro-futuristic black market that embraces technology in its own DIY way. One of the standout sequences in Restore Point finds Agent Em and Kurstat wandering through storefronts showing freshly backed-up humans playing Russian roulette and an elderly tinkerer who uses a custom grillz LED display on his teeth to communicate. It’s an incredibly inventive touch that makes the world feel that much more believable.

The plot isn’t ever overly complicated, which does make it fairly easy to predict at times. That winds up working for the movie instead of against it. The mystery wraps up neatly and without any unnecessary twists. There are questions asked in the subtext, however, sparking conversations about inequality, corporate privatization, and universal health care.

Restore Point represents the same kind of economical sci-fi that The Creator proved was possible, showing Hollywood that overblown budgets aren’t necessarily the answer to creating truly convincing and all-encompassing world-building. It’s also a tightly knit piece of storytelling that, by the end, feels like the first episode in an exciting new sci-fi series. If I could tune in next week to see Agent Em solving another case set in this world, I definitely would.

  • Restore Point


A well-designed and expertly realized vision of a possible near future where technology has invented a new version of the undead.



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