This adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1977 novel is alternately fascinating and meandering. Richard Linklater’s direction is typically fluid, and his use of rotoscoping means the movie has a distinct visual identity via its experimental technique, but the characters just aren’t very interesting. Keanu Reeves is wooden in the lead and it’s often hard to figure out exactly what emotion he’s attempting to convey, which makes the twisty narrative difficult to follow. Luckily, supporting players Robert Downey Jr, Woody Harrelson and Winona Ryder are on hand to keep things moving along, and they bring a spark to life to the otherwise rote proceedings. In the end, “A Scanner Darkly” is memorable thanks to the source material and Linklater’s use of rotoscoping, even as it never really comes alive.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)