A Scanner Darkly Movie Review Summary

Actors: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Scanner Darkly

A policeman in the near future gets hooked on drugs and begins to lose track of his identity. Bob Arctor is an undercover police officer in the near future whose goal is to infiltrate a world riddled with Substance D, the newest and most popular hallucinogen on the market in America. The government is taking extreme measures to try to stop the spread of Substance D, including constant surveillance everywhere and equipping every undercover agent with a "scramble suit," which constantly shifts their external physical appearance, so that no one else in the force truly knows who they are working with. Arctor lives with two drug users, Barris and Luckman, who take drugs daily with Arctor, leading to him getting hooked on Substance D himself. Arctor's drug supplier is a gorgeous woman named Donna, who Arctor wants to use in order to find out who sits higher on the ladder in the drug distribution game, but he falls in love with her, much to Donna's disapproval. Arctor's senior officer, "Hank," only knows Arctor as "Fred," his pseudonym while wearing his scramble suit and protecting his identity. To Arctor's surprise, Hank orders him to spy on himself, as Hank doesn't know that Fred is actually Arctor. Meanwhile, Barris grows increasingly mistrusting, and he attempts to inform the police that Donna and Arctor are terrorists... but Barris gives this information to "Fred," not knowing it's actually Arctor. All of this increase in pressure leads to Arctor increasing his drug intake, and he soon begins to believe that he is actually Fred, and that Arctor is someone else. Hank arrests Barris, believing him to belong to the drug supply chain, and he tells Arctor that he's figured out who he is... which confuses Arctor greatly, since he no longer knows who he is himself. He's sent to a rehab facility called New Path in order to get him clean from his addiction. However, we find out after he's been sent that Hank (who is actually Donna) planned on Arctor getting addicted to drugs all along, because they've discovered that New Path is actually where the drugs are grown and distributed from, so they needed someone on the inside to bring back evidence. They only hope that Arctor's brain isn't too fried to remember his mission. The final scene of the movie shows Arctor, helping harvest the flowers that are made into Substance D, tucking a flower into his shoe, implying he will bring it back to his friends at the police station as evidence.
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Best part of story, including ending: As you can gather from the story description, it's a confusing film that screws with your mind, and the trippy animation only makes it crazier-- still, it's incredibly smart and very engaging.

Best scene in story: The movie is at its best when Arctor, Barris, and Luckman are sitting around, stoned, and talking. In one scene, Barris insists he's made the perfect gun silencer, and he fires it, only to determine it doesn't work at all, startling them all.

Opinion about the main character: Arctor is doing the right thing, and he's following orders, so he's sympathetic, even as he begins to forget who he is.

The review of this Movie prepared by R.W. Hainline a Level 29 Superb Fruit-Dove scholar

Script Analysis of A Scanner Darkly

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Actual chase scenes or violence 20%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzle 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40% **Fantasy or Science Fiction?**    -   science fiction story Spying - Investigations    -   Yes Character operated on/altered?    -   Yes Kind of alteration:    -   poisoned/made sick If a cartoon...    -   animated cartoon If the enemy is a group...    -   drug dealers Cartoon?    -   Yes

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


Earth setting:    -   near future (later in 21st century) Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Tone of movie    -   fearful Kinds of F/X    -   Things that change shape/morph Is this movie based on a    -   book

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