And all that is just the set-up.
This 1997 understated, suspenseful, mystery/sci-fi/drama was the first film for Kiwi writer/director Andrew Niccol, who also penned the brilliant The Truman Show, one of my ultimate favorite films. Gattaca isn't very similar to The Truman Show though; it's more Minority Report. There is at least one similarity I did notice though - both movies hold your attention with ease, without the use of action sequences - explosive, stylized, violent, epic or otherwise. There is action, but not the effect filled, drawn out kind you see in big blockbusters, or expect to see in science fiction flicks. Now, don't get me wrong; I love me some action sequences (The Avengers is one of my favorite movies too) and Niccol probably could've gotten away with putting some in Gattaca, but I really respect that he didn't, because he really didn't need to.
Suspense is the order of the day here, and I could tell it was well-done, and subtle suspense too, because I regularly discovered myself unknowingly at the edge of my seat. The drama of Jerome trying to keep his true identity a secret, and the murder mystery element is plenty to hold interest with a firm, very neo-noir hand.
Oh yeah, and there's a little romance too; nothing very special, but I usually don't like Uma Thurman at all, and her more mellow performance here was plenty good. She plays Irene, a valid, who has potential heart problems in spite of being enhanced, and catches Jerome's interest. Vincent/Jerome, that is - Ethan Hawke - and I'm thinking is the first film I've ever seen him in. He plays the determined, controlled, reaching-for-the-stars hero of the future very pleasingly... and looks impressivly like Jude Law.
Law is the real Jerome of course, who goes by Eugene after selling his identity. Wheelchair-bound, Eugene wheels around the basement of the apartment he shares with Jerome, collecting his own DNA for Jerome's use, and making sarcastic remarks, and, occasionally, saving the day. His supporting role was actually the meatiest role of the film, plus the source of comic relief, and of course, Law did a great job with it all. Every time I find one of my eyelashes now, I can hear him saying, "Keep your lashes on your lids where they belong!" It's... actually not a bad thing at all.
There were a few things that didn't sit quite right with me - spoilers though, so I won't go into detail - but nothing that ruined the overall movie experience. I did skip through one short scene though, that justified one third of the movie's PG-13 rating for "brief violent images, language, and some sexuality," (as per usual) and dealt with the other two-thirds, but it was all relatively mild.
I really like these kinds of movies. Different - Niccol tells a subtle, but unique story, and never adheres to genre stereotypes (like sci-fi requiring a side of action/adventure) just because that what you're "supposed" to do. And thought-provoking - Gattaca cleverly poses - plants - questions inside the plot, and then leaves you to your own devices to answer them to your satisfaction. Beautiful, but not overpowering or stylized, and never trying to force anything from us we don't want to give - Gattaca is an unimposing, cleverly acted, eye-pleasing science-fiction film. If you were me, you would be intrigued.
-- 4/5 stars.