Replicas

You know you’ve fallen into an awesome Keanu Reeves vehicle when one of the first lines out of the actor’s mouth is, “This man is dead, yet his neurological data is still accessible.” Reeves is bracingly earnest as William Foster, a Faustian darer in the tradition of Frankenstein as he experiments with the transferal of consciousness after death. After his wife and children die in an automobile accident, Foster enlists comic-relief dweeb friend and colleague Ed (Thomas Middleditch) to clone the deceased in order to transplant their minds into blank-slate brains. Soon – much to viewers’ suspense and amusement – Foster finds himself trapped in a “giant, sucking hole of lies” as he tries to keep his life together while concealing his activities from the mysterious medical research project that employs him. Replicas, notwithstanding its abundance of CGI, actually constitutes an exemplar of the old-fashioned mad scientist genre and ought to be remembered as one of the better sci-fi entries in the Reeves filmography.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Replicas is surprisingly poz-free and:

Miscegenation-ambivalent. After having moved his family to Puerto Rico, Foster finds that his daughter has caught the attention of a local boy named Juan. Foster impersonates his daughter in a text message, declining Juan’s invitation to meet him and claiming to be grounded until age 18; but it is unclear if Foster does this only to create a cover story for his daughter’s temporary disappearance or if he is also a dangerous bigot and Asian-Aryanist supremacist.

Anti-war. The biomedical firm employing the hero is revealed to be a front and to have other, probably military-industrial motives. “Who would spend this much money saving mortally wounded soldiers?” cynically poses Foster’s adversarial project manager, Mr. Jones (John Ortiz). “My God, man, come on. That’s not how you win wars.”

Agnostic. “We’re going straight to hell,” worries Ed; and Foster’s wife (Alice Eve) also expresses apprehensions about the morality of her husband’s research. At stake is the matter of whether human beings have souls or if humanity is “all neurochemistry” – a question never resolved in the screenplay. After the doom-laden, chaotic build-up, it is a little surprising not to see Foster meet with some form of divine retribution. Instead, the cloning of his family is successful, and the viewer is left to assume that they live happily ever after.

Transhumanist. The end of the film presents the synthetic prolongation of consciousness as a potentially ultra-lucrative business venture of the future – a prospect that the end-credits song, “I Will Live Forever”, seems to celebrate.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the book Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.