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Director: Allan Moyle
review by Tony Lee
From the director of Empire Records, this SF thriller suggests a cyber-future of executive travel by means of exchanging bodies with a suitably psych-screened individual already in the place you want to go - and be there in such a hurry that supersonic flight is a needless delay. The basic idea involves transfers from New York to LA, and from a corporate official to a temporary superhuman clone of the disposable labour force. Naturally, anything that involves science in the movies is bound to go dreadfully wrong, and Xchange is no exception to technofear rules. At least, the twists here are satirical and somewhat inventive by the genre's usual numbskull standards.
'Floating', as regular users call it, is open to casual abuse by those with bootleg systems, and so the lazy businessman switches with his personal trainer ("let him bust my ass!"), while a nymphomaniac gets more fun ("so, is that your full-time body?"), whatever her hair colour. There's also nifty, next-generation Bond gizmos; like the smartest bullet yet (it hangs about in the sky until its lost target is reacquired), and one of those invisibly fine monofilament lines that cuts through anything. But there's far more here than just hi-tech details, and a combination of subjective camerawork and the enthusiastic performances from Stephen Baldwin, Kyle MacLachlan and Kim Coates makes this obligatory body theft and murder plot quite enjoyable even when it's merely rehashing Total Recall and Face/Off clichés. The film's central irony is that the only person who can help our out-of-body hero (with only two days to live) is the unavoidable old flame.
Well scripted, with plenty of amusing intrigues, and kinky sex between action scenes, this slick Canadian offering proves there's life in genre formula yet.
previously published online, VideoVista #27 - June 2001
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