A Scanner Darkly (2006) 4.43/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 87.3
Genre: Science Fiction, Crime
Duration: 100 mins
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr.

Richard Linklater’s adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s sci-fi classic is a truly phenomenal achievement. Rarely has the spirit of a science fiction novel been captured so completely and impressively in film form as Linklater does here. Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arctor, an undercover police officer in a Los Angeles of the not too distant future. So as not to reveal his identity even to his co-workers he wears a scramble suit, a suit that prevents people from seeing his real identity. Thus, the only time Arctor is seen in the flesh is when he’s undercover and given that he’s playing a junkie strung out on the mind-bending substance D, the stage is set for one hell of an existential crisis. Dick mined this fascinating premise for all it was worth and it’s fair to say that Linklater got every bit of the quickly deteriorating yet seductive world of Bob Artcor down on film. Choosing to digitally rotoscope the entire feature was a master stroke and the quality of the work is extraordinary. Reeves is very good as the slipping Arctor, a role that couldn’t have been easy to conceptualise let alone play while Robert Downey Jr. clearly loved every minute of playing the role of Arctor’s untrustworthy accomplice. Winona Ryder and Woody Harrelson round off the primary cast nicely in different but equally complementary ways. However, A Scanner Darkly is all about Dick and Linklater in what must be the best adaptation of the former’s work since Blade Runner.

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