The Gattaca Corporation is an aerospace company that anyone with space travel aspirations would die to work for. It is the near future and human life is now dictated from birth based on your DNA. From birth it is predetermined how long you will live, what diseases you will contract and all humans are now genetically altered.
Vincent (Ethan Hawke – Training Day, Before Sunrise) is a man in which space travel is not possible. He is considered to be an inferior man due to his genetic makeup. He works in one of the menial jobs assigned to his class of people. Yet he still dreams of space as he has for his entire life.
An opportunity arises to change his life and he seizes it. Vincent assumes the identity of Jerome Morrow (Jude Law – The Holiday, Closer), a man who is considered his genetic superior and has all that comes along with that. Jerome, due to a car accident, has become a paraplegic and Vincent sees his opportunity. Getting some professional help, he manages to fool DNA and urine testing and soon he is on the list for space travel.
A big bump in his road to space occurs after it finally looks like “Jerome” is going to space. His program director is killed and a police investigation begins. Vincent’s secret is now in jeopardy.
For the time it came out, 1997, this was a smart and cool looking sci-fi film. Like all good movies, regardless of genre, Gattaca relies on solid storytelling rather than lazily hoping to distract you with great visuals and special effects. Not to say that the film looks crap but its foundation is definitely the story. A story which is quite timely even now (and has probably sadly been throughout human history) in that it deals with discrimination and valuing one race or type of human over another. Here discrimination has been imbued with science.
Much of the kudos for the successful transfer of story from page to screen has to be given to director Andrew Niccol (Lord of War, In Time), who wrote the screenplay as well. The decisions he makes here about how to give us ample background on what is going on without slowing things down is great. Montages are used to give us information on characters’ backgrounds so we understand what motivates present day decisions. Doesn’t not feel ragged either. Or add ons. We are able to understand what is going on in Vincent’s mind as well as externally throughout the entire process. Really allows you to understand and empathize with character.
The hope here or pathway towards combating discrimination is found throughout the film. It is not presented as all darkness. Realistically it is shown that to combat such wrongs in life does require sacrifice and bravery.
Though many will categorize this as a purely sci-fi film it does mix elements of other genres as well such as film noir and suspense. All is done without one aspect overwhelming the rest and making it feel just too busy.
-Welcome to Gattaca
-Do Not Alter
-Substance Test Outtake