Branded may be touting itself as a sci-fi thriller, but it feels more like a psychology conspiracy drama. Misha (Ed Stoppard) finds himself in the midst of an epic fast food conspiracy that's starting in Moscow, manipulating his skills as an advertiser for their own profits. But when he gets romantically involved with Abby (Leelee Sobieski), her dad (Jeffrey Tambor) interferes.
His career crumbles and he goes into the wilderness of Russia to shepherd cows. Six years later, Misha has a bizarre dream that leads him to perform a sacred red cow sacrifice that gives him the power to see the psychological manifestations of advertisements. And, with a little ingenuity, Misha may be able to use his ability to stop the fast food insanity that is polluting the world.
This film addresses the ever-increasing over-saturation of advertising in the world (and the obesity epidemic) with a wry grin and some absurd special effects (the advertisement manifestations are colorful blobs that float out of buildings and people). There's a humorous undercurrent to the film as we see how advertisements affect consumers and their actions. The satirical look at how easily people can be manipulated by commercials is thought-provoking. But the overall execution of the film is problematic.
So many various types of storytelling are implemented, making the film feel schizophrenic at times. It's not until well into the second act that the plot threads converge, finally making some sense (especially after the cow sacrifice sequence really throws off the film's balance). Yet as the film grows more and more ridiculous, it begins to make more and more sense. Once we see how Misha combats the negative advertising, we begin to see the thematic ideas of the film. While still an overall ridiculous film, there are some interesting concepts addressed that make it enjoyable to watch.
Along with trailers for the film and others by Lionsgate there is a basic commentary track by the writers and directors of the film, Jamie Bradshaw and Alexander Doulerain.
"Branded" is on sale January 15, 2013 and is rated R. Drama, Sci-Fi. Directed by Alexander Doulerain, Jamie Bradshaw. Written by Jamie Bradshaw, Alexander Doulerain. Starring Ed Stoppard, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Jeffrey Tambor, Leelee Sobieski, Max Von Sydow.