A SCANNER DARKLY, Richard Linklater 2006



First time I listened about this movie two reasons made me feel like watching it: first is that is a screen version of another Philip K. Dick’s novel, and second, because this is one of Axl Rose’s favorite books.


I would like to point out that one of my favorite movies, Blade Runner, is also based on a novel by the same author, and usually I’m very positive when watching something linked to him because all stories have many features and themes in common. Some people might tell Minority Report is crap, but I find the story amazing and the movie is very cool, no matter Tom Cruise is there and millions of dollars were invested in special effects.


Action is settled in Anaheim, Orange County, in seven years form now. Substance D, for death, is the deadliest and most addictive drug in market, causing irreversible brain damage starting from perception.

Local Police Department together with New Path rehab organization are focused on cleaning the streets from substance D by means of undercover agents which use a scramble suit in order to be protected from being recognized by anyone. Bob Arctor is one of these undercover agents and he’s nicknamed Fred.

Arctor is under investigation due to some non reliable intel provided by his flat mate Barris suggesting he and his girlfriend Donna Hawthorne are dealing with huge amounts of Substance D. In order to confirm this is true holographic scans are to installed in his house so 24/7 surveillance will help to discover what’s going on. Fred is in charge of this investigation.

On the other hand Fred is required to perform some perception and blood tests in order to check whether he’s addicted to Substance D and therefore not suitable for working undercover.

As you can imagine everything will crash on Arctor, drugs, investigation, tests…and he’ll end up checking-in one of these New Path rehab centers completely fucked up in his brains.

Who the hell am I?

Who the hell am I?

A Scanner Darkly is something different, it’s a movie with proper actors, in fact, is shocking to find out established actors such as Keanu Reeves, Winona Rider or Robert Downey Jr.  participating in a non commercial and non typical movie, being a total risk for them, for main issue in the film has to do with drugs. It’s also an animated film, in DVD editions you have the possibility to watch a documentary about the making off and all the techniques and devises used for making the movie.


It’s not an easy movie, fist time I watched it I didn’t understand the real meaning for filling the main plot you also see dope fiend histrionic attitudes which don’t really contribute for a better understanding of the story, a bit nonsense sometimes and you can even get bored at some point.


Before giving it a second chance I preferred to read the novel and realized the movie is quite loyal to it, of course situations were better depicted but the weird situations were also portrayed. I really enjoyed the book so I decided to watch the film again and this time I enjoyed and understood everything much better.


Philip K. Dick’s main feature is the vision he had of the future, hopeless, with an oppressive society and total control over the individual. It’s amazing how certain writers in that time shared same ideas about the future, and how reality is  getting closer to their fictional concepts.



A Scanner Darkly is away from the typical sci-fi movie, there is no need for special effects apart from the chameleonic scramble suit in constant change, is a more psychological and social story full of criticism. When the movie ended lots of questions come to my mind, from time to time is good to watch something with some message underneath.

4 Responses to “A SCANNER DARKLY, Richard Linklater 2006”


    Great movie… and a lil’ bit weird too. I’ll have to read the book someday…

  2. The book is as weird as the movie, and also cool.

  3. Linklater never pretends that he has all the answers, but he asks the questions in such an interesting, elegant fashion that you’ll be glad you came along for the ride. Nice stuff you got here, check out my review when you can!

    • Thanks for your comments. I gotta say after almost 2 years since I wrote that review, A Scanner Darkly has found a position in my sci-fi pole, underrated and not very popular, it’s got something, and the story is fantastic.

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