In this dark alternate reality, the world finally circled down the drain. Due to gross overpopulation, resources had dwindled next to nothing and the environments once thriving with all kinds of life had withered away. As human beings continue to propagate in outrageous levels, Big Agro developed hardier seed crops to sustain the population. Unfortunately science created another big snag in humanity’s survival, giving scientist and social critic Nicolette Cayman (Glenn Close) the opportunity to push her agenda of the one-child rule.
After the lengthy and heavy-handed introduction to the blighted world of “Monday”, thirty years have passed and the planet isn’t faring any better. Director Tommy Wirkola aptly displays a world in social and economic stagnation; dozens of square miles are choked with life as every square inch is used by the billions of humans that eke out a meager existence. It’s a dirty, ugly, dilapidated existence that’s held together by the iron will of the Child Allocation Bureau. Although the world government has maintained a sense of order, the CAB wields its power quite effectively by raiding communities and processing excess children on the promise of a better life in a renewed planet, once released from stasis.
When met with any resistance, as Noomi Rapace’s mini-revolution of septuplets provides, the CAB retaliates with unchecked brutality and an acute disregard for civilian casaulties – the world is overpopulated, what’s the loss of a few dozen people during an operation? As the multiple Rapaces freerun, hack tech and scrap against CAB agents, they’re also tasked to find their missing sister, who may a key player in an insidious conspiracy. This is where “Monday” simultaneously thrives and falters: it covers a lot of ground and provides the foundation for a rich near-future environment yet it also takes away from the main story, which in its heart, is more of a neo-noir thriller.
For the most part, “Monday” provides nothing we hadn’t seen before. It isn’t a derivative exercise in dystopian science fiction by any means, however the tonality and overall atmosphere of its players and their motivations adds little of anything new to dystopian futurescapes. However, it does improve upon what fans of this specific niche enjoy, thanks to the inspired production design of Joseph A. Hodges. This nameless Euro super-city is everything one loves about the genre; Hodges harmoniously blends the weathered Old World with ample of cutting edge tech presented in vibrant, stylish clarity.
As the film progresses, much of the weighty social concerns are dismissed for Noomi Rapace’s journey as seven distinct characters thrust unwillingly in a game of political intrigue. Named for the days of the week, the sisters are taught in secrecy by their grandfather (Willem Dafoe) to maximize their personal traits and work in unison to create the perfect alias – named Karen Suttman – they must all share. The young girls – played with earnestness by newcomer Clara Read – learn early on their way of life has little room for error and it will cost them dearly for the rest of their days. Once Rapace assumes the role as the sisters, she provides a breadth of personality and specialty for each sibling.
For many this may seem like an unremarkable feat due to the excellent work by Tatiana Maslany on Orphan Black, but Rapace’s work certainly shouldn’t be dismissed nor should the premise it be relegated or owned by one actor. Physical differences aside, Rapace creates fully-fleshed characters that are singular in their goals, motivations and quirks. Although all of them have to share one alias, they’re granted the freedom of individuality in their little world and they flourish.
Rapace’s seamless ability of filling a room by herself is also a credit to Director of Photography Jose David Montero and FX Supervisor Bryan Jones that provide an effortless transition between the sisters, who are not only staying awfully close to each other throughout the film but regularly help one another prepare themselves as Karen Suttman for their day of the week.
No matter how careful they’ve been the past 30 years, it was a matter of time someone would catch on to their ruse, as evidenced by Monday’s disappearance. Unsure what to do, the remaining Days form a plan and discover not all is as they presumed between one another. Facing a seemingly no-win scenaro, each sister is pushed to their limit after years of preparing for the inevitable. The CAB is essentially a goliath within this police state, and though it’s handily dispatches its objectors, the siblings provide a fight that’s equally bloody and entertaining.