This movie is animated in order to show how this new future drug “Substance D” slowly destroys its users’ minds. We also see through the performances and the absolutely nuts dialogue as characters, especially Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson, jump to absolutely insane conclusions as their minds follow a logic that only makes sense to them. If anything else, this shows you the life of an addict for a drug that makes you mentally unstable. It has a jovial twist to it that makes many scenes quite funny in what is mostly a psychological thriller as a man is forced to literally take a long hard look at himself in the midst of a slow mental degeneration.
Keanu Reeves is an undercover cop who starts monitoring himself. The way the police work in the future is inside full-body suits that protect their identity, even from the people they work with. Based on the book by Philip K. Dick, the master of surreal sci-fi, this is a story of how drugs and addiction affects people through the use of some of the most creative animation and editing I’ve seen in any movie. They use Keanu Reeves character, who goes by many names like Fred, Arcter, and Bruce, as a point of view of how his world changes as the drugs take over his life. His mind splits, as psychologists explain in an earlier scene, as one side of his brain essentially dies so the other has to work harder to compensate and he finds it harder and harder to distinguish what is and is not real. He loses his identity, so much so that while he’s in surveillance of his life he forgets that he’s watching himself.
Though some might think this movie is a bit confusing, as the Kubrick fan that I am, I enjoy it when movies are intentionally vague and you have to figure out/decide what things mean for yourself. This isn’t as confusing as most of Kubrick’s films though.
My biggest complaint is that the denouement, or the part in any story that happens after the climax/3rd act, which is basically just a wrap up, goes on for so long it’s almost a 4th act in this film. It’s still interesting, just long and makes my brain think the movie is never going to end while it’s happening.
Why it’s on my list: Though this movie flopped at the box office, it stands out as a film that is unique and creative in its story and presentation. Though some might not like it, it should still be viewed for its distinctive vision and expression.
+8: aptly named movie combines dark comedy with an even darker psychological drama with a unique vision
+1: Amazing visuals and editing
-1: denouement is too long
+1: Bonus creativity point