A Scanner Darkly (2006) – Review

An adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel of the same name, A Scanner Darkly is set in the not too distant future where America has lost the war on drugs. A new, highly-addictive drug, Substance D has began making its way across the country and in response, the government has developed high-tech surveillance and placed a field of informants and undercover agents on the street.

Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) is an undercover agent who, because of his dedication to his job and constant drug use, becomes addicted to Substance D. Arctor hopes that by purchasing enough Substance D from a drug dealer of whom supplies him with it regularly, he’ll have the opportunity to meet her supplier and through their interactions he beings to develops romantic feelings toward her. As his addiction grows worse, the left and right hemispheres of his brain begin to argue with one other as they receive two different sets of information. As a result, Arctor is unable to distinguish his role as an undercover agent from a drug user.


The writing is an excellent display of craft, but one should expect nothing less when examining something conceived in the mind of Philip K. Dick. Each role is, too, a brilliant display of acting and performance ability. Downy Jr., and  Harrelson once again impresses and Reeves proves he is more than what most believe.

A Scanner Darkly is just as much artistically driven as it is plot. The cell-shading used here enhances the story-telling with wondrous imagination and presents to us as viewers a unique creative perspective otherwise unattainable without. It is a triumphant achievement in modern film that separates it from your typical picture into a category of its own.

A Scanner Darkly is a superb, artistic film with awareness and imagination that, because no one has heard about it, lacks any real attention. It is worth yours, however. It is worth ever bit.



2 Responses to A Scanner Darkly (2006) – Review

  1. Dave says:

    I’ve always loved this movie, and I remember seeing it when it came out with my Dad. The interpolated rotoscope filter and the soundtrack gave it a really neat and distinctive feel as well. There were even moments where I actually did lose attention from the more droll scenes but still felt this odd immersion in the film, like I was somehow as lost as Arctor.

    Throughout the whole thing I feel bad and actually care about Reeves’ character making it through, and also felt like the ending sequence was very strong and could feel myself subconsciously cheering for Arctor to break through it all. All of the characters were interesting and fun to watch as the story unfolds and facades break down and truths are exposed, and overall it’s just a really neat movie to watch. RDJ is a mega plus too. ;D

  2. Too true, David, far too true. I appreciate the comment.

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