- Interesting themes
- Rousing soundtrack
- Cool cyberpunk setting
- Dry dialogue
- Confusing plot
- Lack of emotional impact
- CGI doesn’t blend well
GenreAction, Animation, Crime
Theatrical Release Date (NA)Jul 14, 2023
PSYCHO-PASS: Providence is a continuation of the PSYCHO-PASS anime series that might satisfy some fans, but was not super impressive as a film. At a runtime of two hours, this movie is probably not worth your time unless you’re burning with curiosity about what happened between Psycho-Pass: Sinners of the System and season 3 of the series.
On a Dark and Stormy Night…
The movie starts with a boat tossing on the waves of a restless sea. The Peacebreakers board and kill Dr. Milicia Stronskaya, an economist who developed a program that would predict the outcomes of the Sybil System being exported to other countries. Akane Tsunomori joins forces with Atsushi Shindo, Joji Saiga, and of course Shinya Kogami to attempt to retrieve Stronskaya’s research and investigate further into the Peacebreakers. The plot takes several unexpected turns from there, and Akane and Kogami soon realize that the problem is bigger than they’d ever imagined.
Crime Coefficient: Low
The plot of PSYCHO-PASS: Providence stays faithful to the moral questions posed by the rest of the series, and explores them more deeply. How much should we trust AI to control our lives and make wide-reaching societal decisions? How can we remain human as technology increasingly becomes a major part of our lives? These sorts of questions are very relevant to our lives at present, and the movie addresses them in a thought-provoking way while also including plenty of action to keep the viewer engaged.
The film is also visually interesting, with complex backgrounds and intricate settings that give the viewer a better idea of the world. The moments I personally enjoyed most were the small scenes of a New Year’s festival, featuring the normal, everyday life of the people who live under the Sybil System, and to whom the movie usually refers in the abstract. It was nice to have that glimpse of regular people enjoying their peaceful lives, and it helped to put the dramatic battles of the main characters into a more comprehensible context. Though the setting was generally appealing, there were moments throughout the film where the realistic CGI backgrounds contrasted harshly with the more stylized character art, which can be quite jarring for the viewer.
Another element that helped in raising the emotional stakes of the movie was the soundtrack, scored by the prolific Yugo Kanno. The swelling orchestral music in the fight scenes and the quiet, moving themes that accompanied the more emotional scenes truly punched above their weight in terms of delivering a response from the viewer. The scoring of the movie created some truly beautiful moments that I fully believe would not exist without Kanno’s touch.
A Bureaucratic Nightmare
Though the more atmospheric elements of the movie were acceptable and even enjoyable, I would not say that the plot was fun to follow. The world is filled with so many departments and organizations and rules and regulations that it’s impossible to keep track of who’s allowed to do what and who has jurisdiction in which case. Though you don’t exactly need to keep track of all the bureaucratic nonsense to understand the broad strokes of what happens, it sure is annoying to feel lost during most conversations between characters. This also makes the characters’ motivations and thought processes hard to follow, and I more often felt that I was listening in on some corporate meeting than being invited into an intriguing story.
This may have also been because the characters are, for the most part, stoic and emotionless when delivering their lines, and most of the exchanges between them are extremely dry and devoid of humor or personality. The characters feel more like flat stereotypes than real people, and some characters seem to exist simply to fight or to embody an ideal. This flat affect included the characters’ reactions to the multiple plot twists that took place throughout the movie, which made every twist and turn that happened seem no more significant than a bump in the road. It was difficult to care about anything that happened when the characters didn’t seem all that affected by it. All of this makes the movie especially unfriendly for newcomers to the series, who can watch all the recaps they want but still be left bemused by the plot and character choices.
The Final Gunfight
Fans of the series could enjoy PSYCHO-PASS: Providence, but for those who are less invested, it might not be worth a watch. Though the style is enjoyable and the story includes some interesting themes, the foundations of the film — characterization and plot — are just too shaky for it to be a true hit.
For more PSYCHO-PASS, the animated series is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
An early screening provided for this review.