Saturday, June 2, 2018

[Review] Fahrenheit 451

Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon star in Fahrenheit 451, an HBO Films adaptation of Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel of the same name. At the helm is director Ramin Bahrani, who directed 2015's intense housing economy thriller 99 Homes (which also starred Michael Shannon). And despite falling flat in some aspects, the film's stellar cast and interesting themes are enough to make you want to stick with it, at least for the first half...

Set in a future-shock society (aka Cleveland) where every known book is banned, we meet Beatty (Shannon) and Montag (B. Jordan) who lead a crew of firemen that work to track down and burn every piece of written media (seems a bit dramatic, doesn't it?). But during the process, Montag experiences a remorseful change of heart and begins siding with an underground rebellion of literature preservers, which ultimately pits him against his captain.

Michael Shannon and Michael B. Jordan certainly make a dynamic duo, and they play their roles very well. You've got Beatty's older, colder, rough-edged ruthless alongside Montag's more reflective, curious, and sympathetic soul. The film does move it a slower pace though. It's drab tone becomes overly monotonous. And there isn't a whole lot of striking visual flair, aside from some VR and holographic imagery that recalls Netflix's disappointing hi-tech flick Mute. The narrative also gets messy and muddled toward the latter half, coming off like a mediocre sci-fi series rather than a satisfying cinematic experience.

The film's messaging is quite on-the-nose, covering the importance of the written word and freedom of expression, as well as how these things inform cultures and civilizations between the past, present, and future. It also warns against the dangers of a surveillance state and a monolithic world. However, the film never fully pays off the topics it raises. In other words, this version of Fahrenheit 451 seems to have few pages missing.

( 5.5/10 )

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