How come I’d never heard of this movie? It’s worth it for the gun kata alone! Wheeee! It’s like Gattaca meets the Matrix, with Christian Bale! I mean really, how could you go wrong? Or Maybe Harrison Bergeron meets the Matrix meets Gattaca meets Christian Bale.

Anyway, it plays with old themes, but they’re old ideas I enjoy: classic SF dystopia. What happens when you try and make everyone the same? What happens when we all look the same, feel the same… or don’t feel at all?

What it does do, however, is fall into a lot of old traps. This “new” and “revolutionary” society is still based on the nuclear family structure. Babies are still made and raised the same way, which seems a little silly when you remember that these folks aren’t supposed to have feelings. Why raise your children? Out of a sense of duty to the state?

I’m always amused to find that the future looks a whole lot like the 1950s.

There are also only about 4 women in the future, apparently. Seriously, check out all the group scenes. I made the assumption, early on, that women and men were segregated. Turns out that wasn’t the case, the filmmakers were just too lazy to find a reasonable number of women extras.

It also falls into an old trap that I’m trying to break in my own work. A totalitarian society is overthrown by… killing its leader. We just need to destroy the head and blow up the prozac plants and then people will be free!

Well, you know, fighting the Man with the same hatred and violence the Man uses against you… isn’t all that revolutionary. You get another cycle of hate and violence. A small group of people chooses to “liberate” many through an act of violence.

Can’t we think up different ways to build new societies? How effective is it, really, to kill a dictator and magically remake a country? Look at South America. Africa. Iraq. The US has been killing dictators for years, and it’s made a hell of a mess. You don’t just slaughter a dictator and expect things you change. It’s a lot tougher than that. It’s changing people. It’s finding new ideas. And you can’t do that with a bullet.

Killing people is easy. Real change is hard.

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