A Scanner Darkly


Richard Linklater wrote and directed the story by Philip K. Dick’ s novel about excessive drug use and the government recording everything about everyone. It was shot as a normal film, but each cell was¬†animated for a really trippy look.

I have never read a Philip K. Dick story, but I seem to love movies made out of his stories, like Bladerunner and Minority Report. Even when I don’t like the movie (Paycheck), I like the premise behind it, even though it has been poorly executed.


In this case, I didn’t really dig the story. I wanted to see it because the rotoscoping was very intriguing in the trailers. That is what it is called when each film cell is animated. It worked for the movie, but it also drove me crazy at times. Keanu Reeves plays an undercover cop trying to infiltrate a drug ring. In order to keep everyone safe, when he goes into the police station and talks to his boss, he wears a full body suit that distorts his image constantly while also altering his voice. You can’t tell if he’s male or female, black or white, or much of anything. He can’t tell the same about his boss or anyone else in that area of the police precinct. While the rotoscoping makes this much easier to show how he is morphing from one person to the next while talking, it messes with your eyes after a while. I couldn’t wait for the scenes to end when he was wearing that suit since it was driving me crazy.

Robert Downey Jr. is awesome. He’s a complete paranoid militant freak who assumes the government is out to get him. He plays this part well. Rory Cochrane also plays what could be his character from Dazed and Confused a few years later. He’s paranoid from the drugs, but he just thinks that bugs are out to get him. It is the most animated I have seen him in a long time, since he was about as exciting as one of the corpses on CSI:Miami when he was on that show. I thought he had forgotten how to act, but maybe he hated it there. Keanu is Keanu. He’s the same no matter what he does. Winona is okay. Nothing really outstanding there.

I thought the movie went on a little too long. I thought it was over and then it sent Keanu’s character out into some field to work. It needed to continue to actually show the “twist” at the end, but really wasn’t a twist.¬† I already felt like the movie should be over so I wasn’t thrilled when it actually ended. It was a bit of a downer all around.

Grade: C


Created this site in 2002. Pop culture and entertainment lover for much longer-- tv, movies, music, books, cowbells, and armadillos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

VH Corner