Messy Action Comedy

Alan Ritchson is mostly an actor, probably best known for his role as the superhero Hawk on DC’s Titans. Ritchson tries his hand behind the camera with the chaotic cyber-thriller Dark Web: Cicada 3301. Loosely based on a cryptic organization that once offered codebreaking puzzles around a decade ago, the uneven action comedy offers playful direction and a messy plot.

Starring Conor Leslie, Ron Funches, and Jack Kesy alongside Ritchson himself, the half-baked movie has its moments but looks destined for the bargain bin. A wise-cracking bartender, who also happens to be some sort of genius hacker in his spare time, encounters a series of mysterious puzzles on the net that lead to a deep web of danger.

Dark Web: Cicada 3301 decides early on it’s not a pure thriller

Linked to some kind of secret society called Cicada 3301, Ritchson attempts to pull off National Treasure meets The Net and The Game. He fails in that regard but Dark Web: Cicada 3301 certainly has a funky, high-energy spirit. Along the way Connor (Jack Kesy) will team up with a librarian named Gwen (Conor Leslie) and his childhood buddy Avi (Ron Funches) looking for the mysterious group. Annoying NSA agents prove a bothersome thorn in Conner’s wild quest.

Loosely structured like Michael Douglas’s far superior The Game, Dark Web: Cicada 3301 decides early on it’s not a pure thriller. Comedic talents like Ron Funches lighten up the mood, though it’s clear much of the humor is improvised and only sometimes hits the mark. The cast is definitely having fun in the low-budget project. The caper maintains strong pacing and credible tension for its first two acts until an underwhelming, confused climax is pulled out of nowhere.

The only way to enjoy Dark Web: Cicada 3301 is embrace its tongue-in-cheek attitude and juvenile gags despite the inane story. It’s an ensemble action comedy with some questionable jokes, largely only enjoyable due to its strong cast having fun. The cyber-thriller elements are cheesy and badly dated.

Video

Few problems arise in the razor-sharp 2.00:1 presentation. Released by Lionsgate, it’s handsome 1080P video made with clean digital cinematography. Even the occasional CGI set pieces are nicely integrated with no real loss in picture quality. Running 105 minutes on a BD-50, the AVC encode easily handles the immense detail and definition.

Flesh-tones pop with a real clarity and the palette mostly avoids warmer temperatures. A couple scenes have somewhat questionable shadow delineation but otherwise the contrast and black levels are dialed-in perfectly. Interestingly enough, Dark Web: Cicada 3301 is available in 4K on various streaming services. The indie movie was likely finished at 2K resolution.

Audio

Dark Web: Cicada 3301 contains a largely perfunctory 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack with some rear separation and discrete activity. Nothing too surprising as the dialogue-driven thriller has rock-solid fidelity and enough light bass for a decent soundstage.

A little atmosphere provides occasional energy and some immersion, especially in the climactic party scenes. The indie thriller’s audio is competently made with most of the active design cues concentrated in the front.

Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles play in a white font, inside the 2.00:1 widescreen presentation.

Extras

About the best thing included with this future bargain bin movie is the embossed slipcover. Lionsgate includes a digital copy that redeems in HDX quality on VUDU.

Audio commentary with Director/Co-Writer/Producer Alan Ritchson, Producer DJ Viola and Co-Producer/Production Designer Burns Burns – Three friends having a good time together discuss the arduous production process with laughs.

Dark Web: Cicada 3301 Trailer (02:43 in HD)

Deleted Scenes (10:47 in HD) – Three scenes in total, one that extends the lengthy van interrogation confrontation.

Lionsgate Trailers (07:43 in HD) – Three trailers from other releases play before the main menu: Guest House, The Swing of Things, The Right One

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Dark Web: Cicada 3301
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Dark Web: Cicada 3301 takes a comical approach to its cyber-thriller plot with uneven results.

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