Andrew Niccol


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7.0 Gattaca (1997)
6.5 Simone (2002)
5.0 Lord of War (2005)
7.0 In Time (2011)
5.0 The Host (2013)
7.0 Good Kill (2014)
6.5 Anon (2018)
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Andrew Niccol (New Zealand, 1964) debuted with the futuristic thriller Gattaca (1997). Notwithstanding the visual pomp and the futuristic setting, this is the old stereotypical and melodramatic story of the struggle by a social underdog who does not accept his fate and tries to prosper in a cynical world where his kind is routinely squashed by wealthier men. Jerome, an impeccable but cold employee, furtively pours chemicals on the keyboard of his computer. He is about to embark on a one-year mission to a distant planet, a highly prestigious assignment.
A flashback tells the true story: he is not Jerome. His name is Vincent and he was the unhappy child of a couple of average parents who, disappointed in his weakness and diseases, decided to choose his brother Anton using the latest scientific method, leaving nothing to chance. The result was that Anton was perfect while Vincent was weak. Everybody, even his parents, discriminated against the inferior, imperfect Vincent. Firms would not hire him because tests would reveal his genetic inferiority. He ended up a janitor in the space center, cleaning the windows of the building where the top race trained for the missions. Until one day sheer pride and will triumphed and he managed to win a swimming race with Anton. This gave him courage to approach a shady scientist who helps genetically inferior humans overcome their handicap by purchasing a new identity. He sold Vincent the identity of Jerome, a genetically fantastic individual who remained paralyzed in an accident. Vincent went back into the real world with Jerome's identity: blood, urine, fingerprints, etc. all provided by Jerome on a daily basis. Vincent fooled the company Gattaca, that hired him and quickly promoted him up the hierarchy. Vincent fooled everybody through sheer will and determination, achieving results that should be impossible to his body and hiding the tremendous physical stress he has to endure.
Vincent and Jerome have actually become friends and share Jerome's house. Jerome is even proud of Vincent's achievements.
One week before the mission that Vincent has been dreaming of, an official is found murdered and during the investigations the detectives find an eyelash dropped by Vincent/Jerome. The analysis quickly reveal that the area reserved to the top race has been infiltrated by an "invalid", a member of the lower species, whose name is Vincent and used to be a janitor. The older detective senses that an impostor lives among the geniuses, while the younger detective tries to dissuade him.
Vincent/Jerome is falling in love with a colleague, Irene, who has been excluded from the mission because she failed the physical test. Irene warns him that she is genetically unfit for him, but Vincent/Jerome surprises her by showing no interest in her deficiency. Vincent panics when he realizes that he (his old identity) is the murder suspect, and that the police are searching the entire city for him, but Jerome is not shaken at all. The investigators are puzzled that they keep finding specimens with Vincent's genetic print even after having verified that every single worker in Gattaca is not Vincent. The police then starts checking people at random, first in the streets and eventually in a disco where Vincent is romancing Irene. Vincent has no chance but to run and take Irene with him, thereby betraying his true identity to her. Instead of turning him in, that night Irene makes love to him.
The following day the detectives have guessed that Jerome is Vincent and they are at his desk waiting for him. Irene sees them in time to warm Vincent, who is walking in. Vincent has time to hide and alert Jerome at home. Irene tells the younger detective, who has never met in person this Jerome, that Jerome is home sick, but the younger detective has also guessed that Irene is Vincent's girlfriend and forces her to take him to visit the sick man. Jerome, alerted by Vincent, drops the wheelchair and sits on a chair as if he were a normal person, not a cripple. The younger detective tests Jerome's blood, as if convinced that Jerome will fail, but instead Jerome passes the test, a test that simply proves that Jerome is who he is. When the detective leaves, Vincent comes out of his hiding place, and faces Irene, who now realizes how the scam worked: the paraplegic Jerome is the real genius, providing fluids as needed to Vincent. Irene leaves disgusted but she doesn't betray them to the police. The detective leaves in a hurry because the other detective has solved the case: the assassin is the mission's director, who wanted to continue the mission against the will of the other official.
Vincent decides he has to meet the young detective in person and walks to Gattaca. Sitting at his own desk, he finds the young detective: the detective reveals himself to be his own brother Anton. Anton tells him to surrender and give up on his crazy dream, but Vincent challenges him one more time to one of their wild swimming races. Again, Vincent wins and has to rescue his brother.
Vincent is asked to submit to one more urine test. Not expecting this, he doesn't have any fluid to fake the result. Resigned to getting caught, he delivers his own urine. The doctor smiles and ignores the beeping alarm. As Vincent stares puzzled at the doctor, the doctor tells him that right-handed man use their right hand to pee, a detail that always eluded the left-handed Vincent trying to emulate the right-handed Jerome: the doctor has always known that this Jerome was a fake. The doctor admires him because he has exceeded the physical limits of his body, and he hopes that his son (also lower race) can emulate him.
In a typical idiotic Hollywood-ian happy ending, Irene accepts Vincent for what he is, Jerome commits suicide and Vincent happily takes off in his spaceship.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Valentina Filippis)

Andrew Niccol ha diretto il thriller futuristico Gattaca (1997).

Jerome, un impiegato impeccabile ma riservato, versa di nascosto una sostanza chimica sulla tastiera del suo computer. Egli sta per intraprendere una missione, della durata di un anno, in una base distante, un incarico altamente prestigioso che lo interessa molto.
Un flashback ci racconta la vera storia: egli non è Jerome; il suo nome è Vincent, ed era lo sfortunato bambino di una coppia borghese che, stanca della debolezza e delle malattie del figlio, aveva deciso di scegliere suo fratello Anton affidandosi alla scienza, senza lasciare nulla al caso. Il risultato fu che Anton era sanissimo, mentre Vincent era di salute cagionevole. Tutti, persino i loro genitori, facevano delle distinzioni ai danni del più fragile ed imperfetto Vincent. Le aziende non lo avrebbero assunto perché i test avrebbero rivelato la sua inferiorità genetica. Finché, un giorno, il grande orgoglio e la forza di volontà di Vincent prendono il sopravvento, ed egli riesce a sconfiggere il fratello Anton in una gara di nuoto.
Questo avvenimento gli fornisce il coraggio necessario ad avvicinare un misterioso scienziato, il quale aiuta gli uomini geneticamente inferiori a superare il loro handicap dotandoli di una nuova identità. Egli fornisce a Vincent l段dentità di Jerome, un uomo geneticamente perfetto che era rimasto paralizzato in un incidente. Vincent ritorna al mondo reale con l段dentità di Jerome, sangue, urine, impronte digitali, ecc. Vincent inganna la Compagnia Gattaca, che lo assume, ed ottiene rapide promozioni. Vincent inganna chiunque grazie ad una grande forza di volontà e determinazione, ottenendo risultati che sarebbero impossibili per il suo corpo e non facendo notare i tremendi stress fisici che deve sopportare. Vincent vive segretamente con Jerome, e usa l段dentità di quest置ltimo per guadagnare i soldi che servono al paraplegico Jerome per vivere.
Una settimana prima della missione che Vincent ha sognato a lungo, il responsabile del progetto viene trovato ucciso e -- durante le indagini - viene ritrovato un ciglio di Vincent. Vincent viene immediatamente riconosciuto: è un addetto delle pulizie che un tempo lavorava lì; diviene il principale sospettato dell弛micidio.
Vincent/Jerome è innamorato di una collega, Irene, che era stata esclusa dalla missione in seguito al fallimento del test d段doneità fisica. Irene lo mette in guardia dicendogli che non è geneticamente perfetta come lui, ma Vincent/Jerome la sorprende non mostrando nessun interesse per le sue carenze fisiche. Vincent viene preso dal panico quando scopre che lui (o meglio, la sua vecchia identità) è sospettato per l弛micidio, e che la polizia sta effettuando ricerche in tutta la città, mentre Jerome non è per nulla preoccupato. Gli investigatori non si spiegano come mai continuino a trovare residui geneticamente attribuibili a Vincent anche dopo aver verificato che nessuno del personale impiegato a Gattaca è Vincent. La polizia, a questo punto, inizia a fare dei controlli casuali, prima lungo le strade ed infine in una discoteca, dove Vincent sta corteggiando Irene. Vincent non può fare altro che scappare e portare Irene con sé, tradendo la sua vera identità. Anziché lasciarlo, quella notte Irene fa l誕more con lui.
Il giorno seguente gli investigatori iniziano ad ipotizzare che Jerome e Vincent siano la stessa persona, e lo aspettano alla sua scrivania. Irene li vede in tempo per mettere in guardia Vincent, che sta arrivando. Vincent riesce a nascondersi in tempo e ad avvertire Jerome a casa. Irene informa l段nvestigatore che Vincent non si sentiva bene, ma il poliziotto aveva anche immaginato che lei fosse la ragazza di Vincent, e la costringe ad andare con lui a trovare l置omo, a casa malato.
Jerome inganna l段nvestigatore, che è sorpreso di scoprire che egli è veramente Jerome, ma Irene scopre la verità e sebbene non lo denunci alla polizia lascia Vincent, disgustata.
Vincent decide che deve incontrare l段nvestigatore di persona, così si reca a Gattaca. Trova l段nvestigatore seduto alla sua scrivania: è suo fratello Anton. Anton gli chiede di arrendersi, ma Vincent lo sfida nuovamente in una delle loro spericolate gare di nuoto. Vincent vince ancora, e deve anche correre in soccorso del fratello.
In uno dei finali più idioti di cui si abbia testimonianza, Irene accetta Vincent per quello che è, Jerome decide di condividere il sogno di Vincent di volare via e Vincent, felice, parte per la missione.

Nonostante il visibile sfoggio e l誕mbientazione futuristica, questa non è altro che la vecchia storia stereotipata e melodrammatica della lotta dell置omo socialmente inferiore che non accetta il suo destino: vivere in un mondo cinico in cui gente come lui viene costantemente schiacciata da uomini più ricchi.

Niccol also wrote the script of The Truman Show (1998)

Simone (2002) is a sci-fi movie.

Lord of War (2005)

In Time (2011) is another sci-fi movie, set in a distant future (but one in which people still don't have mobile phones and security cameras are a rarity and people still watch the news on television). It is a thriller that borrows from Bonnie and Clyde and from the legend of "Robin Hood". but it is also a socio-philosophical essay: what would happen if everybody became immortal, or just lived a very long life?

The narrating voice informs us that in 2169 everybody has been genetically engineered to stop aging at 25. After that, they need to buy "time" or they die. The remaining time is sculpted on their arm in a digital format, a digital clock that keeps ticking. People work for time and buy things with time. Will is just past 25 and has a mother who is 50: they both look 25. Nobody looks older than 25, regardless of how old they are. His mother only has a few hours to live but donates 30 minutes to Will. He goes to work. He pays his coffee with a few minutes of time, passes a dead body in the street (someone whose time has run out), and is paid in minutes of time. After work he enters a bar to meet his friend Borel, an alcoholic. A "rich" man (a man with a lot of time on his arm) is buying drinks for everybody. Will alerts this man that he is risking his life because thugs attack "rich" people to steal their time. The rich man doesn't care. He comes from another zone, the zone of rich people, called New Greenwhich, while Will lives in the Time Zone, a sort of slum. Sure enough the thugs walk in: they are known as the Minutemen and are led by the ruthless Fortis. Will saves Henry and hides him in an abandoned house. Henry says that he is 105 years old and is tired of living. Henry also explains that the cost of living is raised all the time so that people run out of time and die, otherwise there would be too many people. Meanwhile the people in New Greenwich are almost immortal. Will instead is running out of time. While Will is asleep, Henry donates almost all his time to him. Will wakes up and finds out that Henry has disappeared leaving a note on a dirty window: "don't waste my time". Will finds him on a bridge, ready to die after the few seconds that he has kept, and see him plunge into the river. Will leaves the scene, but a security camera captures the scene. Will donates ten years to his friend Borel, who has a wife and a baby, and plans to move his mother to New Greenwich. Will is to meet his mother but his mother cannot catch the bus because the fare has been increased and she lacks 30 minutes, the 30 minutes she gave Will. She runs towards him while he runs towards her, but she dies in his arms when her time runs to zero: he doesn't have the time to transfer some of his decades to her. Meanwhile, Fortis and his Minutemen have learned who saved Henry and correctly assume that Will has Henry's time, so they are now after Will. Devastated, Will takes a cab to New Greenwich. The ride costs him a few months, a sum that nobody in the Time Zone can afford. He vows revenge against the rich people who enslave ordinary people. Meanwhile, a cop (or, better, a "timekeeper") is placed in charge of the investigation into the death of the rich Henry. The cop, Ray, notices the security camera and the police quickly identify the man as Will: unfortunately the camera did not capture the way Henry died, only that the poor Will was there. It doesn't take long for Ray to learn that Henry has gained a lot of time, and therefore to conclude that Will robbed and killed Henry. Will takes a room in an expensive hotel and then walks into a casino where he first spots a sexy girl, Sylvia, and then meets an ultra-rich man, Philippe, who challenges him at poker. Will wins a large sum at poker from Philippe and learns that Sylvia is his daughter, and also meets Philippe's wife and his mother-in-law: they all look 25. Now Will owns thousands of years. Sylvia is intrigued by the newcomer. Will buys an expensive sport car (paying with 59 years), takes Sylvia for a ride, convinces her to swim with him. The following day, however, Ray shows up with his cops and arrests Will in front of everybody confiscating all his time except for two hours. Will claims in vain that he did not rob Henry. Ray also knew Will's father, who was a troublemaker (somehow he threatened the system of time) and was killed in mysterious circumstances. Will manages to escape but only has two hours to live. He takes Sylvia hostage and drives away. After a brief car chase, Will crashes the car. Will and Sylvia are unconscious when Fortis and his Minutemen steal Sylvia's huge amount of time. Now she has only 30 minutes to live. She had refused to give Will some of her time but now she gladly accepts some time from him. Ray and his cops find the car but Will and Sylvia have already left and are hiding in his apartment. Will, in need of time, looks for Borel but his wife doesn't even let him in: Borel used the time to get so drunk that he died of it. Will pawns Sylvia's earrings for a little bit of time. Then he calls Philippe from a pay phone demanding a ransom of one thousand years for Sylvia's release. Ray is there with Philippe. Philippe doesn't want to pay although he owns millions of years. When Will understands that Philippe won't pay a second for Sylvia's life, he releases her, but now she is angry at her father, who clearly values time more than her. Sylvia uses the same pay phone to call her father. While she is on the phone, she sees Ray about to shoot Will and shoots Ray. Ray is wounded and is running out of time: Will gives him some of his own time before fleeing on his car with Sylvia, who is now a full-fledged accomplice. A mob surrounds Ray and almost lynches him but Ray is saved by his cops. Will and Sylvia desperately need time, so they rob a blond in a luxury car. They are celebrities: TV news is warning the population against them. Ray visits Philippe and tells him that he has issued a warrant for the arrest of Sylvia. Philippe tries to bribe him offering him a lot of time. Ray refuses. Will and Sylvia rob one of Philippe's time banks, take some time capsules for themselves and then let people loot the rest. Will secretly brings some time to Borel's wife and daughter. However, giving time to ordinary people only makes them more vulnerable to the Minutemen: Fortis kills and robs them. Eventually, Ray finds Will and Sylvia. Ray sees Will as a personification of his father, who too was jeopardizing the system, and Ray is the ultimate defender of the system, the "timekeeper". Ray pursues them relentlessly on the roofs and in the streets. Will and Sylvia find refuge in a hotel, in which they rent every room with the time they have. A man sees them and tells Fortis when Fortis threatens to kill anyone who doesn't help locate the fugitives. Will and Sylvia are now chased by both the cops (Ray) and the thugs (Fortis). Fortis finds them and reveals that he is tolerated by the system because he helps lower the population, the same reason why the state keeps raising the cost of living, so that people run out of time faster. Before stealing their time and killing them both, Fortis challenges Will to an arm-wrestling match in which the loser loses all his time. Will wins, using a trick learned from his father, causing Fortis' death, and manages to shoot his thugs. Will and Sylvia then confront her father Philippe: Sylvia pretends to surrender to his many bodyguards, but instead Will takes him prisoner. Will and Sylvia steal a million years stored in Philippe's safe. Philippe lectures them about Darwinian selection: it would be a catastrophe if everybody lived forever, only the rich should be immortal. Ray tries to intercept them before they cross the border back into the poor Time Zone, knowing that they mean to destroy the system by distributing a million years to everybody. Ray orders his troops to shoot them on sight. Will and Sylvia survive and distribute one million years to the poor people of the Time Zone. Ray finally corners them after they crashed their car and are running in the middle of nowhere, but Ray has forgotten to recharge his own time and dies in front of them. Will and Sylvia too are running out of time but get enough from Ray's car. The headlines of TV news are now that the system is collapsing because nobody is going to work anymore: they have plenty of time. Will and Sylvia attack a bigger bank, determined to destroy the unequal system of time.

The Host (2013) is another sci-fi movie.

Good Kill (2014)

Anon (2018) is another sci-fi thriller.

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