Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

How appropriate that this movie comes with its own built-in metaphor for its quality, the "mixed bag" carried around dutifully by the hero. The surviving elements of the Philip K. Dick story that inspired it are intriguing, as the witless Ben Affleck gets to play detective and solve his own ruined life. The plot almost takes on the form of a superhero film, with the hero's superpower being the ability to pull out of his bag whatever item he happens to need at that moment in time. (Conker the Squirrel would be proud.) What doesn't work are the gunfights, car chases, and many, many explosions, which are the film's main selling point but seem redundant and run-of-the-mill. Not that you couldn't have guessed, but they're also implausible in the extreme. I guess the filmmakers figured that if you're going to throw believeability out the window by casting handsome dull-knife Ben Affleck as one of the top computer engineers in the world, you may as well have him move faster than bullets and drive his motorcycle like one of the top stunt drivers in the world, too. Suspension of disbelief isn't the real problem anyway (this is sci-fi for cryin' out loud); it's the general laziness of the production, as all parties involved seemed to be going through the motions. Particularly grim and difficult to watch is the epilogue, which was filmed in haste after testers rejected a less tidy ending that at least was driven by the characters, not by plot contrivance and abominable dialogue. At least John Powell's score was refreshing.

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