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Andrew Niccol (the Truman Show) directs this picture about a future where science has progressed to the point when you can choose the best of your genetic material to make a genetically enhanced child. If you are genetically modified you are a “valid” and life is good. If you are conceived the old-fashioned way (i.e. drunken humping), you are an “in-valid”. With me so far?

Ethan Hawke plays Vincent Freeman, an in-valid who not only has to deal with an unfair lot in life, but has a lifelong sibling rivalry with his superior valid brother, Anton. Vincent dreams of being an astronaut, but he has a bad heart. Frequent genetic testing means that he can never be chosen to go to the stars. The only way to accomplish his dream is to borrow someone’s valid DNA.

Vincent finds a valid named Jerome Morrow who looks just like Jude Law and is willing to share his amazing DNA. Jerome was a kickass athlete who was supposed to be the best, but he was only second best, so he gave up on life and stepped in front of a car. Instead of dying he ended up in a wheelchair. Vincent uses Jerome’s hair, blood, urine, even his skin cells to get a job at Gattaca, a space agency with an upcoming mission to Saturn’s moon Titan.

It would be interesting enough to have the whole moviebe about an in-valid trying to sneak into a good life that he’s never supposed to experience, but Hollywood demands bloodshed, so of course there is a murder at Gattaca. Detectives find Vincent’s eyelash, and he becomes a prime suspect. He must keep pretending to Jerome, but the increasing police presence is putting a strain on his chances of going to space. Another thing that Hollywood demands is an unnecessary love story. Uma Thurman shows up to play the love interest Irene. She thinks that he is a perfect specimen, they get close, she finds out the truth about his lame DNA and gets mad, then they make up, yada yada yada, you’ve seen it three hundred and seventy-six times.

So how does Hollywood choose to end a science fiction movie about genetically modifying humans, space travel, murder, romance and paralyzed Jude Law? With a swim race of course. Fucking Hollywood.

It’s a pretty decent movie overall. There’s an interesting premise that is hidden under all the extra bullshit. It came out in 1997, but the treatment of in-valids by the valids is pretty relevant in this post 9/11 world. There are lots of cool ideas, and this movie will make you think about those cool ideas.

Critically Rated at 12/17

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