Pierce Brosnan in I.T.: did everyone on set pop a Viagra and get roaring drunk? - review

Director: John Moore. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, James Frecheville, Anna Friel, Stefanie Scott. 15 cert; 92 mins

For a semi-interesting first reel in I.T., it’s not at all clear who the villain is. Could it be Mike Regan, a self-made aviation tycoon rolling in money, to whom Pierce Brosnan gives a creepy edge, with his sour smirk and an Irish accent dialled, dubiously, right up?

This guy is not our friend. He’s developing an app called OmniJet, dependent on SEC approval, which will open up the private jet market to Uber-style access from smartphones. He has a gorgeous wife (Anna Friel) and a sexually curious 17-year-old daughter (Stefanie Scott) who sit around in his giant modernist mansion seemingly waiting to be terrorised in some way.

Or, will baddie of the hour be Ed Porter (Aussie up-and-comer James Frecheville), a young temp in Regan’s I.T. department, who comes to the rescue when a technical hitch nearly scuppers an all-important presentation? A grateful Regan hires him to update all the specs on his home and car, which this self-effacing geek, who used to work top-secret for the government, manages in one afternoon.

Big mistake. Ed’s first shifty move is to befriend the daughter on social media, despite their 11-year age gap, and find any excuse to come back over. By now, the wink has been fully tipped.

His crash-pad in town is a fully-equipped cybervillain lair, with his laptop linked up to nine wonkily tessellated flatscreens, and strobe lighting that kicks in when there’s psycho business to be done.

The Matrix wants its green-and-black colour scheme back. Cape Fear wants its toxic male combat back. You may well want your money back.

It’s not just that Ed’s escalating intrusions into the family’s privacy, via CCTV, SatNav sabotage and (gasp!) co-option of the lawn sprinkler system, might have looked a little dated as stalker threats in the mid-to-late 1990s.

The movie is itself a lurking sleazebag. Scott has a scene of self-pleasuring in the shower, soon to be viewable on everyone’s phone at school, and must strip for this right after the script mentions her character is underage.

It’s one thing for Ed to be perving all over her from afar, but the filmmakers prove themselves every bit as predatory, and right up close.

Poor Friel, trying to hold it all together, is defined almost wholly by her breasts. She gets a shock by email when a falsified mammogram comes through. By the end she’s sliding across wet floors in a negligee, bound and gagged and soaked to the skin, with the horndog camera transfixed.

John Moore’s films (Behind Enemy Lines, the Omen remake) have generated some trashy voltage in the past, but this one loses its mind, as if everyone on set popped a few Viagra and got roaring drunk. Frecheville, so persuasive as a budding sociopath in Animal Kingdom, gets worse and worse the loonier Ed becomes: there are crying-jag scenes so overwrought his management may wish to burn the tapes.

And despite Brosnan’s intriguing choice to play Mike as a generally ghastly human being for whom we feel no sympathy at all, his snarling performance could just as easily be read as out-take rage for even being here. Intermittently hilarious, I.T. might have been screen-written by a ZX Spectrum on a glitchy day.

Best films of 2017