June 27, 2006
Movie Review By: SFAM
Directed by: Allan Moyle
Written by: Christopher Pelham
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Low
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Medium
Key Cast Members:
Overview: Xchange is one of those movies that comes up with an interesting if unbelievable Sci-Fi premise (mind transference technology) and then proceeds to hose it beyond all recognition with a horrid script, bad acting and flat out bizarre (not in a good way) scenes. Still the initial idea about exchanging conscious minds is interesting enough to at least keep you watching for the first 20 minutes or so. Whether you care to after that is truly a matter of how much you like trashy cyberpunked Sci-Fi.
The Setting: In the near future, the technology can enable a person’s consciousness to be exchanged with another. So while you may take on the speech patterns of the new “host,” your thoughts and memories are still “yours.” Furthering this technology, a company, Xchange, now uses this technology to enable instant travel across the globe. You just need to go into an Xchange office, agree upon a temporary host (male or female), and plug-in. But wait, there’s more! In addition to Xchanges with humans, the Xchange corporation has also created disposable clones with supra-human abilities that are ready-made to accept a temporary mind transferal. Unfortunately, the clones only last a few days before self-destructing (one might wonder how the development of a full human clone that only lasts two days could possibly be cost-effective, but, um, this isn’t really explored). Unfortunately for society, the near-future has turned onto a world of the haves and have-nots, where corporations sit on top of a society where life is only valued if you are a corporate stooge.
The Story: Toffler (Kim Coates) is a corporate executive who has it all. His one fear is that he’s afraid of undergoing mind transferal travel, or “floating” as it has become called. Unfortunately for him, his biggest corporate customer’s CEO has been murdered and the CEO’s son needs him by his side in an hour for an important meeting on the other side of the country. Due to the time issue, Toffler is forced to undergo his first floating instance. A temporary host has been found at the last minute, so everything seems to be set. While the transferal and meeting goes off without a hitch, and in fact Toffler (now Kyle MacLachlan) has found the experience to be enjoyable, problems arise when Toffler goes back the next day to transfer into his own body. Unfortunately, the temporary host that now is traveling in Toffer’s body has not returned – worse, his current body appears to be stolen, and the Xchange corporation is asking for it to be returned. In fact, it appears that the most notorious terrorist now is in control of his body.
The CEO for Xchange (Janet Kidder) asks Toffler to take on the body of a clone until his real body is found. This is Tofflers’ worst nightmare. Considering clones only last a few days or so, Toffler freaks out and escapes. Strangely, he eventually gets someone to put him in a clone (Stephen Baldwin) anyways so that he can go out and find his body. From the moment Toffler escapes until the end, we get a completely bizarre and convoluted plot of corporate slimes treating the little people like trash, and screwing whoever they need to get to the top. I could go into details, but truly, for the most part it’s about as predictable as you can get.
Scenes Too Stupid for Words: OK, Xchange is almost worth sitting through just to see the quick-cut shot of the CEO chick in the buff screwing the son bad guy while arguing about their absurd take over the world plan at the same time. The narrative called for the beans to be spilled on who the bad guys were, and why they were working together, so, for whatever reasons, they tried to combine the two scenes into one. Truly, this has to be one of the most idiotic sex scenes ever put on film. There are others in Xchange that are pretty bad, where similarly, something has to happen in the narrative but they couldn’t bother spending more than 10 minutes coming up with the details. But truly, the CEO sex scene has to be seen to be believed.
The Bottom Line: The mind transfer technology in Xchange could have potentially been interesting, but instead it is delivered in a completely simplistic and non-believable way. Worse, the surrounding story sucks horribly, and the acting, especially from Stephen Baldwin is pretty lousy. But again, the story idea was at least interesting, as was the bizarre floater bar. And the production values were at least on par with TV movies, so Xchange earns a solid 4 stars.