Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The year is 2079. The Earth is under attack from a sophisticated, ruthless enemy from outer space. The technology of war has advanced considerably. The latest addition to the alien arsenal are cloned robotic suicide bombers.

Spence (Gary Sinese) is a scientist, working in Special Weapons Research. His wife, Maya (Madeleine Stowe), is a doctor. They appear to have a good marriage. One day, he is arrested by Agent Hathaway (Vincent D'Onofrio) from ESA, a government security organisation that might have been called The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the old days. They believe the real Spence has been murdered and this one is a cloned robot with a bomb in its heart. They have nasty-looking equipment that can cut open a man's chest and extract vital organs.

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Spence is not happy. He has two courses of action: escape or die. The latter would end the movie prematurely and so there is only one option.

Based on a short story by Philip K Dick, this is a chase thriller with sci-fi accoutrements. Is Spence a robot? Can he prove his innocence? Is Maya safe? Who is Maya? Who is Hathaway?

The atmosphere of deception and uncertainty is well-handled. The post-apocalyptic landscape, beyond the protected zone, is suitably rubble-strewn, inhabited by that old favourite of futuristic movies, The Outsiders, who tend to be multi-racial, suspicious of strangers, subterranean and desperately decent. Naturally, they help the fugitive Spence.

Clichés abound, but Gary Fleder directs with pace and energy. The plot is not without surprises and the performances are gritty. Sinese sweats a lot and D'Onofrio behaves like the villain of a horror picture. Stowe has to look pretty, which is not hard for her, and Mekhi Phifer, as the Outsider who assists Spence, is striking.

As usual, the final scenes are tagged on to fill the sugar quota. Strain them, or leave early.

Reviewed on: 12 Jun 2002
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Futuristic chase thriller in which Gary Sinese is accused of being a robot suicide bomber.
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Director: Gary Fleder

Writer: Caroline Case, Ehren Kruger, David Twohy, based on a short story by Philip K Dick

Starring: Gary Sinese, Madeleine Stowe, Vincent D'Onofrio, Tony Shalhoub, Elizabeth Pena, Tim Guinee, Mekhi Phifer, Gary Dourdan

Year: 2002

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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