Even an outstanding cast, some good special effects, and an intriguing idea from a first-rate writer can’t save this sci-fi thriller from a poor script and unimaginative direction. The studio’s lack of confidence and its troubled history is evident in its long-delayed release and obvious cuts to take it from an R to a PG-13.
Gary Sinise, who also co-produced, plays Spencer Olham, a brilliant scientist who has created a devastating weapon to be used in a war against genetically superior aliens. After a romantic weekend in the country with his beautiful doctor wife, Maya (Madeleine Stowe), and on the night he is to greet the head of the global government (Lindsay Crouse).
But an inspector named Hathaway (Vincent D’Onofrio) tells Olham that the plans have changed. Hathaway has intercepted an alien message showing that Olham has been killed and replaced by an alien cyborg construction that so perfectly replicates Olham’s memories and thoughts that even he does not know that he is no longer alive and himself.
If this sounds vaguely like “Blade Runner,” that is because both are based on stories by pioneering visionary sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. Like “Blade Runner,” this story envisions a world in which identity is so blurred that even we do not know who we are.
Unfortunately, though it tries to impersonate a much better movie, its ideas are lost among pedestrian chase scenes, and even a twist at the end cannot make it compelling.
Parents should know that the movie has peril and intense violence, including injury and death for key characters, including parents of young children. We see injured people, including battle victims and a young girl. Characters use strong language. A character is drugged, which makes him hallucinate. There is a very mild sexual situation involving a loving married couple and a brief non-explicit shot of a nursing mother.
Early in the movie, Olham quotes Einstein’s famous comment that “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Olham is referring to the human capacity to create weapons of mass destruction and mentions J. Robert Oppenheimer, who helped create the bomb that ended the war and demolished the two Japanese cities and tens of thousands of civilians. Families who see this movie might want to learn more about Oppenheimer and his trial for treason and discuss some of the conflicts scientists face.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the vastly superior Blade Runner – The Director’s Cut and may also enjoy other dystopic visions of the future from “Metropolis” to “Judge Dredd.”