Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5.
USA, 2006. Warner Independent Pictures, Thousand Words, Section Eight, Detour Filmproduction, 3 Arts Entertainment. Screenplay by Richard Linklater, based on the novel by Philip K. Dick. Cinematography by Shane F. Kelly. Produced by Tommy Pallotta, Jonah Smith, Erwin Stoff, Anne Walker-McBay, Palmer West. Music by Graham Reynolds. Production Design by Bruce Curtis. Costume Design by Kari Perkins. Film Editing by Sandra Adair. New York Film Critics Awards 2006. Online Film Critics Awards 2006.
Richard Linklater adapts Philip K. Dick’s story in a style that recalls his Waking Life, filming live actors and overlaying stunningly beautiful animation atop the images to incredibly powerful effect. Unfortunately, the faithful adaptation of the story leaves a film that is nothing more than motor-mouthed junkies spinning well-written but ineffective dialogue for two hours. Keanu Reeves plays an undercover cop who is infiltrating a group of drug addicts in a futuristic dystopia that is riddled with an addiction to a substance called Substance D. His free use of narcotics while on the job affects him so strongly that he eventually has no idea where the line between his job and his life as an addict is taking him. Every theme in this film has been explored a million times before, and while it doesn’t need any kind of genre-inspired action to beef up the storyline, a character beyond two dimensions would be at least a little helpful in getting the audience somewhat involved in its premise. As it is, the film is superb to look at but excruciating to sit through.