A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie focuses heavily on ideas of identity and accomplishment, though not always in a clear way. Our hero has a strong drive to overcome his supposed weaknesses, but he lies about his identity to do so without consequence. Although violence in the movie is minimal, a brutalized corpse is shown at a murder scene. One character commits suicide by burning himself. There is a very brief sex scene with no explicit nudity. Overall, the movie takes a very strong stance against genetic engineering.
What's the story?
GATTACA is set in the not-too-distant-future, in a world obsessed with human perfection to the point that genetic engineering is the norm, resulting in an unfortunate social dichotomy. The "haves" are Petri dish creations designed to be genetically perfect ("Valids"). The "have-nots" are naturally born, therefore, deemed imperfect ("In-valids"). Born naturally with a heart condition, Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) falls into the latter category, seemingly resigned to a life as a lowly janitor. His determination to travel into space is so strong that he goes to the extreme of \"renting\" the identity of the recently paralyzed Valid, Jerome Morrow (Jude Law). Vincent cannot escape his Invalid self; as DNA found in a single eyelash implicates him in a crime he did not commit. Paranoia mounts as Vincent's identity and dream become endangered.
Is it any good?
Gattaca is a familiar story -- a high concept movie that starts well, but falls prey to lazy storytelling. Its concept is strong enough to deliver a future dystopia worthy of a future noir like Blade Runner. However, by its end, the film's hollow retro-1950s style is one that only seasoned film buffs will recognize as a nod to Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville.
Plot hole, after plot hole, creates too many bumps in the road. We are never clearly told why space travel is so important to Vincent. Additionally, we are not told why his choice to masquerade as Jerome is any more heroic than bucking the system by simply being himself. After not-so-neatly tying up a love interest with a Valid named Irene (Uma Thurman), the movie's ending strives for metaphor, yet is unsatisfying. Still, it is pretty to look at.
Talk to your kids about ...
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.