The rotoscoping looks great but I feel there's a wasted opportunity for a film that's primarily a drug trip. The scenes with Freck are great with the bugs and alien so why does the rest of the film feel flat. Speaking of which the leads are an example of a comedown, Ryder and Reeves are boring and Harrelson seems to have wandered into the wrong film. Downey puts in a decent performance to stop you nodding off.
Linklater executes the pain & empathy portrayed in Dick's story perfectly. As a Texan, Linklater melds the science-fiction of Dick's work with the very real war on drugs & all it's casualties & the ever increasing security states that we in the West now live under. Poignant, dream-like & sad, A Scanner Darkly allegorically depicts the loss of identity as social politics & technology continue to consume our existence
2.5 stars. Like 'Waking Life' if all the talking heads were utterly blitzed. A more authentic insight to the druggie experience than the likes of 'Reqium for a Dream', though the upshot of this means the film probably benefits from the viewer's experience being similarly altered.
While being immersed in a druggy reality that feels increasingly absurd and comical, you are presented with a minimally worked out, paranoid dystopia, leaving the viewer puzzled in a vibe of mystery. The visual style is like in "Waking Life", but less hysterical, suiting this film's atmosphere well, more specifically enabling neat rendering of the scramble suit. A new type of Linklater, yet still very much his style.
“What does a scanner see? he asked himself. I mean, really see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does a passive infrared scanner like they used to use or a cube-type holo-scanner like they use these days, the latest thing, see into me - into us - clearly or darkly?"
The cool rotoscoping animation style adds to the mindfuck of a political thriller this turns out to be. Rampant deceit, drug-addled rants, and hallucinations make it hard to follow until everything comes together towards the end. Sadly, this fictitious dystopia mirrors our current situation with the drug war today.