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A Scanner Darkly

The story is set in the near future in a society in which drugs seem to flow freely and political corruption exists. The film appears to take a cynical view on the war on drugs – it is confined to undercover agents, many of whom are hooked on D, a drug that causes people to develop split personalities, in order to hunt drug suppliers undercover. Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arctor, one of the undercover officers who appears in pubic in special suits that constantly change the wearer’s physical appearance. He lives with Jim Barris, played by Robert Downey Jr. Bob has been sent to bust the drug ring that the enforcement agency believes is operating in the house. The movie was interesting to watch; the characters are all slightly animated so that you recognize the actors under the animation. It has this very strange viewing effect – it looks animated but feels too real to be animated. The constantly changing physical appearances also were interesting to watch – no one ever knows who is under the suit, and it seems to be a bit of a game for people to logically deduce who it is. And the people under the suits are mostly addicted to D. I thought the story was okay (the first part of the movie that sets up the story is a bit challenging to follow), but it seemed somewhat underdeveloped; there could have been a much more engaging and deeper commentary on drugs and corruption. Thumbs up for a movie that continues the Linklater tradition of experimentation and sharp dialog. (2006; 3 stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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