Starring: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder
Director: Richard Linklater
Running Time: 100 mins
A Scanner Darkly is an American film about a near future where an undercover policeman becomes involved with a new dangerous drug that leads to him falling into madness and losing his own identity.
This film is quite simply pretentious. It’s got some good ideas, and the premise works on paper, but the way that it unfolds in a meandering and dull form is just absolutely tedious and unimpressive to watch, not to mention the horrifically distracting animation that completely takes you out of the world you’re meant to be so invested in.
The biggest problem with this film is that it feels like such a wasted opportunity. The near-future dystopian idea can work so well, and in this case in particular, when it’s talking about drug addiction a couple of years on from 2006, it’s so easy to relate to, and therefore surely easy to get properly engrossed in.
And whilst the first ten minutes or so are successfully atmospheric and psychedelic, the fact that this film keeps that up for the entire runtime is painfully dull and confusing to sit through, as the story becomes very meandering and hallucinogenic, intended to mirror the feelings of the characters, but ultimately making for something impossible to keep a sustained interest in due to this artistic mistake.
What’s worse about this film, however, is the animation. Again, the strange pencilled-over version of the actors is meant to make the whole film seem a lot more trippy and hallucinogenic, but it just doesn’t work, because it’s simply so weird and over-the-top that you spend more time focussing on how odd the animation itself looks rather than being drawn into this world.
Also, the performances here aren’t very strong either. Again, the animation is a huge hindrance to the actors, because it makes it feel as if you can’t really take them seriously as proper humans, but even so, they’re all acting totally pretentiously, trying to heighten the atmosphere of the film by mumbling the whole way through, ultimately leaving you even more detached from them seeing as you’ve got no idea what they’re saying.
Overall, this gets a 6.2, because despite having a strong premise and initial intrigue, this is still a hugely pretentious and confusing film which is near impossible to get properly engrossed in.