Ramin Bahrani updates its dystopian world into the digital age but just like in most movie adaptations of complex novels with big ideas, the source material is diluted to fit a 90-minute slot.
It’s dystopian world bear no impact with generic elements including forgettable slogans, low-budget production design, Alexa’s cheap-looking cousin, run-in-the-mill military Big Brother, shady state-mandated supplements and soldiers in nondescript uniforms.
There is no sense of urgency and threat in the story. This simplified version is a 90% turncoat story and 10% chase film, all rolled into a generic bad guy turned rebel hero story.
Montag’s awakening is reduced to the Power of Love trope. The books are turned into a MacGuffin through an absurd plot point written to stage an alternative dramatic ending that serves as an unearned metaphor for how the truth can set you free.
The cast does their best with what they’re given, but whatever internal conflict that the narrative suggests is underwritten. Michael B. Jordan, Michael Shannon, and Sofia Boutella are held back by one-note characters.
All in all, a novel about censorship, knowledge, and ignorance is reduced to a flat reductive interpretation where men in black leather uniforms are bad, rebels are noble, and repressed memories hold the key to everything.
In today’s post-truth era of fake news, flat earth believers, and social media influence, there is something to be said about how knowledge can be manipulated and suppressed. Unfortunately, the only critique this movie adaptation can do is project a book burning live stream – decorated with emojis of course – onto skyscrapers.
Fahrenheit 451 (2018)
Fahrenheit 451 is a dull simplified husk of its source material, sinking underneath one-note characters, lackluster dystopia, and generic storytelling.