1997, Movie, PG-13, 112 mins


No aliens. No firefights in space. No robots. Just an eerily attractive, sleekly costumed cast in a stylish, cooly intelligent throwback to the Twilight Zone era of deeply serious science fiction. Set in a near-future in which DNA is destiny and custom genetic makeups are for sale -- say bye-bye birth defects, low IQs and cellulite -- it's about potential, performance and what it really means to have the right stuff. Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) is "natural born," a nearsighted "love child" with a weak heart and a burning desire to join the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation's flight program. But evident intelligence and determination mean nothing in light of random genes, so Vincent makes a desperate deal and assumes the profile of crippled, one-time Olympic swimmer Jerome Morrow (Jude Law), a hugely complicated, labor-intensive and intimate process that involves tiny baggies full of dead skin, plastic sacks of urine and peel-off fingertips cushioned with precious drops of blood. Vincent rises through the Gattaca ranks, makes time with beautiful coworker Irene (Uma Thurman) and then, a week before his first mission, sees his carefully laid plans threatened: A Gattaca bigwig is murdered, and the police are all over the place with DNA scanners. The murder mystery is strictly pro forma, and neither of the eleventh-hour revelations comes as a great surprise. But this stately, stunningly beautiful picture evokes a future in which present-day prejudices and neuroses have been taken to new, insidious scientifically rationalized heights: It's only a small step from tormenting toddlers with educational flash cards to preprogramming them for financial and social success at the cellular level. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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