I ended up seeing Gattaca again recently, riffed in fact, and was reminded what a really stupid movie it actually is. A lot of people seem to think it’s wonderful, but I think it’s dumb.
For those that don’t know, Gattaca was a 1997 distopian flick starring Uma Thurman, Ethan Hawke and Jude Law, about a man born “natural” in a world of genetically perfect people and having to “fake” his way through life so he can achieve his dream of being an astronaut. And yes, it is every bit as stupid as that sounds.I guess that the premise is promising but it almost immediately goes straight off the rails. Vincent Freeman is conceived naturally, without having scientists climbing through his DNA and deciding what’s best for his future. But he lives in a world where everyone is virtually genetically perfect and that genetic perfection is the basis of all of society. Your genes are constantly scanned to determine everything about you including your identity. Vincent teams up with Jerome, a genetically perfect but crippled man who trades his genetic signature for Vincent’s care and together they set about to fool the system and get Vincent into space.
Except none of it makes the slightest bit of sense. The whole society is idiotic and the idea that Vincent, a man with a serious heart condition, could fool anyone is absurd. Do doctors not have stethoscopes in the future? You can fool the gene scanners but you sure can’t fool an actual doctor.
And why would such a society continue to operate? Vincent is supposed to be a genius with an IQ of 185. Okay, he has a heart condition. Technology has gotten to the place where they can immediately scan the whole of the human genome but they have forgotten how to transplant organs? We can do that today!
Plus, Ethan Hawke had to scrub his skin really hard every day to remove DNA that might expose him, but that’s not going to work. You lose tons of skin cells and hair every single day, no matter how hard you scrub. If they’re really out looking for DNA like the film suggests, he’s doomed from day one. But why would any society ever be that way? It’s just paranoid. Even if you’re going to use DNA as identification, people running around cleaning up every hair and eyelash is just a colossal waste of time and effort in anyone’s book. And it wasn’t just the police doing it, it was everyone. It was dumb.
The scene where Vincent shows up at Gattaca with his fake DNA profile and gets hired, that was asinine. No matter how much your DNA says about your biology, it says nothing at all about your skills or abilities. It might tell someone about your potential for intelligence but it says nothing about your actual knowledge. It’s like hiring the tallest guy you can find to play basketball, whether he has any coordination or skill or not.
In the end, even though they find out that Vincent has been playing a part, the doctor still lets him on the rocket and a bunch of people in suits get on and blast off. Yes, suits. No, not space suits. Nobody is strapped in. They get in a room and off they go, just standing there like they’re waiting for a train. This is just stupid. There’s actually a legitimate reason to keep someone with a serious heart defect from going into space. Space travel is hazardous and stressful. Having a fatal heart attack in space not only costs you your life, but puts the lives of your team at risk. But since it looked like they were just doing a train ride to Titan, maybe none of them actually had any jobs to do there besides stand there and pretend to be perfect. It was never explained.
I honestly think that director Andrew Niccol thought this was a cool concept but never thought about it beyond that. It doesn’t make any sense if you stop and think about it in detail. A society like that would fall apart almost immediately. I get that they’re saying something about racism and hatred, anyone who was born naturally is seen as a freak, but it makes no sense at all to do what the movie does. There are plot holes so huge you could shoot a dozen rockets through them and that’s being charitable. Yet some people still try to defend the movie for some weird reason. I find nothing, other than a potentially cool concept, to recommend the film. It’s an awful society, one I’d never want to be a part of, and it makes no goddamn sense at all. Visually, it’s fine. The acting is good. The plot though, the plot is god-awful and that’s just the truth.