“Bliss” Review

Story posted February 10, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Ian Thomas.

Amazon Prime Sci-fi Original “Bliss” is a total miss.

The Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek production, directed by independent sci-fi auteur Mike Cahill, is a love story wrapped around a confusing sci-fi narrative that never succeeds to coalesce into an entertaining product.

Our crooked-beaked protagonist Greg Wittle is a divorced dad unsatisfied with his pedestrian office job. He spends most of his days neglecting his work and sketching his dream home, which eventually leads to his termination. In a state of confused panic, Greg accidently kills his former employer.

Wittle sneaks out of his office into a nearby area where he encounters an enigmatic, transient drifter named Isabel, played by Salma Hayek. The scantily clad drifter starts talking about strange and wondrous things to our confused protagonist, culminating in a stunning revelation that is sure to bend the psyche of any viewer who has never seen “The Matrix.”

All of reality is a computer simulation; nothing about Greg’s life is real.

The ultimate disappointment in this movie lies within its sloppy plot. Not only does it have to borrow elements from more successful movies, but it never takes the time or care to properly cultivate these ideas into anything of value.

Cahill is far more concerned with pushing this hackneyed sci-fi plot through to the audience than he is developing any sort of relationship between the audience and characters.

Part of the reality of living in a computer simulation is the ability to telekinetically alter the world with the help of narcotic-like orange crystals provided by Hayek. With the help of these crystals, Greg and Isabel can push and pull objects with their mind, light candles with their fingers, and blow them out with a windy force-push.

The pair wreak telekinetic havoc on downtown L.A. as they find themselves falling in love both with each other and the powerful orange crystals, leading to a disturbing scene in a roller-skate rink. The two roll around, force-pushing skaters into each other, knocking them off their skates, and throwing several unsuspecting teenagers over the rink wall, most likely hospitalizing many of them.

It’s at this point in the film that most people will begin to question why we should care about these characters. Neither Wilson’s nor Hayek’s performance is particularly charming or endearing, and the roller-rink massacre gives them both a disconcerting twinge of psychosis.

The simulated people are later revealed to be just that—simulated AI people with no emotions or feeling. However, it is still disturbing that Wilson’s character shows no regard to the people that he has yet to find out are fake.

“Bliss” continues a dramatic unfolding of twists and turns that includes Bill Nye as a central character and a spittle-spraying cameo from Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. Ultimately, there is no payoff or fulfillment in the second half of “Bliss.”

The movie is a disappointing flop from beginning to end and serves as a slap-in-the-face to sci-fi fans. Skip this one.

Rating: 1/5


Ian Thomas is a sophomore majoring in communications. To contact him, email its5054@psu.edu.