14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: A Scanner Darkly [DVD]  (DVD)
I guess some people could come to this film thinking, Keanu Reeves + Science Fiction = Action picture. It's not. It's closer to an Indie sensibility, and probably one of the best things that has happened to Sci Fi cinema in a long time, because it actually does something intelligent.
Of course, the reason it is so intelligent is that it follows Philip K. Dick's novel of the same name (okay so that means Hollywood is now only 40 years behind literary sf) which is based on Dick's own experiences with counter culture and his time spent amongst drug addicts in suburban America. As such the whole thing is slightly trippy, hence the use of rotoscope to deliver the sense of unreality experienced by addicts, dealing with shifting reality and shell games (all is not as it seems) amongst normal blue collar stock. Reeves plays Bob Arctor, a narcotics officer whose true identity is hidden from everyone so that he can effectively infiltrate a ring of users that may lead him to a big dealer. Unfortunately, Arctor is an addict himself and his superiors (who don't know who he is) suspect him of being part of the problem. So begins the sense of paranoia.
Much of the film is spent detailing the interactions of the group of stoners, much of it self-destructive, and has some pretty funny but sad performances by Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder. And that sets the tone. The film is by turns funny and tragic, much like the source novel, with a big reveal at the end that is, in its way, slightly optimistic.
So it's not a classic, and if you're just wanting escapism this probably doesn't have enough explosions, but what it is is a damn fine film and good step forward. And it's probably the most loyal Philip K. Dick adaptation ever. (Let's face it, Blade Runner was not Do Androids Dream of Electric sheep, no matter how good it was.)