The power of will, the ability to rip through expectations and assumptions: These are a few of the themes that tag along in the film Gattaca, an off track train, a whizzing, fresh science-fiction film with enough substance and personality to please all sorts of viewers. Ethan Hawke plays Vincent Freeman, a boy who was born into a genetically perfected world with real, untampered genes. His mother and father wanted one natural child: This decision does not fly well with Vincent’s life and society, especially since early on, and maybe because of, he hoped to become an astronaut in deep space.

Like poor eye-sight in the Air Force, Vincent doesn’t have the right genetic credentials for the job, but that won’t stop him. He hires a man who creates for him a new identity–for Vincent’s case, he is given partnership with Jerome Morrow, who is in a wheelchair because of an out of country accident. Jerome is dedicated to Vincent’s cause: He gives him hair, urine, and all kinds of genetic necessities, so that Vincent can pull it off in astronomy school and be considered one of the genetic elite–which Jerome is. There, he must balance his quasi-genetic equilibrium and come out on top with the overt goal: To get blasted into space.

Vincent, or Jerome to them, works at the space base, admired by his higher-ups for his perfect work, and seems on his way to space. But, after the mission commander is murdered, a full-fledged investigation begins, and Vincent must cover his tracks, and replace those in less suspicious areas with Jerome’s follicles. This shows a new, young detective, who from the start one can predict is his brother: They have such a dualistic relationship that it would seem inevitable. And this detective, the genetically perfect brother, has Vincent’s real eyelash, found near the crime-scene.

In the midst of his determined path at the base, Vincent meets Irene, played by Uma Thurman, who he soon falls in love with. Between them is the soft unknown balance between what she knows about him, and what she doesn’t. And when she finally discovers his true genetic identity, she is all but outraged: silent and accepting, her inadequate heart, as she mentions laughably to Vincent, always made her feel less than most. To Vincent, this is like worrying about a sliver when he has a rod in his chest. The dramatic irony invoked in the movie is a huge factor in it being consistently engaging.

The film-making is definitely science-fiction: It has all the props involved in such a bundle. Linear shots of architecture, high ceilings and odd attire, but it although it fulfills the archetype and formula of design, it has much mores substance than most films. In the core is a semi-satire on our genetic convictions, and possible convictions, for we are just now getting into the realm of choosing gender and gene-type. It is a predictive exercise with a round of excellent performances, and a provocative, engaging plot.

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