A Scanner Darkly

New from The Movie Snob

A Scanner Darkly (B-). First, a word about Philip K. Dick, whose novel is the basis for the movie. Several of his works have inspired movies, most famously Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report. If you like science-fiction, especially dystopian science fiction, you should give Dick a try. I read a few of his books as a kid, and I generally enjoyed them. Be warned that they are very weird, like Ubik, a story about a gang of psychics whose leader gets killed—and then starts sending them mysterious messages from beyond the grave.

Anyway, Scanner is considered one of Dick’s best books, but I remember trying to read it, getting confused, and eventually giving up. The movie is much more straightforward than I remember the book being. Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves, The Matrix Reloaded) is a dopehead hooked on the horrifically addictive “Substance D,” along with 20% of the population of America. But he is also “Fred,” a narcotics agent assigned to spy on Bob Arctor and his small “family” of fellow dopeheads (Woody Harrelson, Management; Robert Downey, Jr., Iron Man 3; Winona Ryder, Star Trek). When he reports to work, he wears a high-tech, identity-concealing suit so effective that even his bosses don’t know his true identity (although they assume he is either Arctor or one of his cronies). Which is his real identity? Substance D is so powerful and destructive that even he isn’t sure any more. The movie can be taken as a warning against the danger the “war on drugs” poses to our civil liberties, but its unflinching look at the pathetic, brain-damaged drug users seems to justify even harsh measures intended to stem the tide.


3 comments on “A Scanner Darkly

  1. […] work has inspired many other (better) movies such as Blade Runner, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly.  Anyhoo, this movie is not too different from its 1990 predecessor, although I remember the […]

  2. […] paranoia-driven work has inspired such movies as Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly.  According to Bureau, there is a shadowy force of serious men wearing serious suits and hats that […]

  3. […] I picked this one up in a bargain bin last fall in advance of the new remake starring Keanu Reeves (A Scanner Darkly). Then the bad reviews for the remake started rolling in, and I put the DVD on the back burner. But […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s