Identicals

| April 13, 2016

I think that people who write sci-fi are smarter than the rest of us in a few key ways.  They have a real capacity for keeping entire worlds in their head all at once, with an incredible attention to detail concerning how these fictional worlds work and how the characters therein interact with each other.  However, this is often to the detriment of sci-fi stories because the writers forget that their audience does not have the same skill set and need to be brought along fluidly through the story in a way that teaches them about the world being created in front of them.  I think that Writer/Director Simon Pummell falls into this trap of not making a movie that connects with its audience because everything about this world is so completely vivid to him inside his own head that he doesn’t see the need in explaining anything.

Identicals has an interesting story.  An organization known as Brand New-U has constructed a business surrounding finding people who look and act like you but have a much better life, then arrange a way for you to transition into this better life by replacing your affluent doppelganger.  Slater (Lachlan Nieboer) stumbles across the company when his girlfriend goes missing and Brand New-U replaces her with an identical corpse.  This forces Slater to become one of the company’s identicals, leaping around from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.  No, wait.  Sorry, that’s Quantum Leap.  Slater just wants to figure out of his girlfriend is alive and what’s going on.

I didn’t get that plot synopsis from actually watching the movie.  I’m paraphrasing the back cover of the DVD, which I was forced to do because when I watched the movie, I had no idea what was going on.  I didn’t know why Brand New-U decided to intercede in this woman’s life, I didn’t know if the identicals were clones or just people made to look like other people through plastic surgery, and I didn’t know how Slater was supposed to take down the company and find his girlfriend from inside the system.  The entire plot was a complete mystery to me, and it made watching this movie a chore on par with cleaning out my gutters.

I’m hard pressed to think of things I liked here other than the premise outlined on the back of the DVD case is a movie I would be interested in watching, but the actual movie gets lost in translation.  Nieboer does nothing interesting with the role, even during the obligatory fight scene between two identicals in which he fights a more gleeful, sadistic version of himself.  Nora Jane Noone has no character at all.  She just exists as something for Nieboer to pursue and eventually have sex with.

If you’re a rabid sci-fi fan you may find enough to like here to really enjoy this story, but I need a bit more clarity and structure to any movie I watch before I can accept there is a practically omnipotent corporation swapping people in and out of each other’s lives, not to mention how easy it is for them to find people who look just like you and drop you in their lives.

Available now on DVD from Sony Pictures.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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