As calculated as it is perfunctory, this John Woo sci-fi thriller submits a decent cast to the indignities of silly pseudo-science, snoozy action sequences, and a smarmy, tacked-on epilogue. The high-concept premise comes straight from the Philip K. Dick source material, but it's been transformed into something so slick and overly clever that the entire story crumbles under the weight of its pretensions. That'd be fine if the filmmakers seemed to care about filling their frame with gorgeously choreographed fights and glib banter -- those satisfying staples of the action blockbuster. But once the fun opening sequence has run its course, director Woo can't seem to work up much enthusiasm for the material; he shows signs of life only during the climax, with its overabundance of catwalk chases and hydraulic lifts. As for hired-gun screenwriter Dean Georgaris, he seems more adept with clever throwaway details than with the careful world-building that allows an audience to suspend disbelief. Even the actors seem to have trouble convincing us they mean it as they spout their cornball cloak-and-dagger dialogue. Ben Affleck clenches his jaw through an amnesiac role that's a pale echo of the one Guy Pearce played in Memento. Uma Thurman is reduced from the grandeur of Kill Bill Vol. 1 to the pale tremulousness of a standard-issue girlfriend role. As a white-collar villain, Aaron Eckhart is given free reign to chew scenery and smirk like it's going out of style. That leaves only American Splendor's Paul Giamatti and Six Feet Under's Michael C. Hall -- both supporting players -- to provide a few glimpses of actual humanity in a flick so cynical that its humanitarian "message" provokes only guffaws.
by Brian J. Dillard review