Gattaca

Movie review by
Tony Nigro, Common Sense Media
Gattaca Movie Poster Image
An interesting concept that doesn't hold water.
  • PG-13
  • 1997
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A few characters have questionable judgment.

Violence

One fight scene, a suicide, and the results of a murder are shown.

Sex

Very brief sex scene with no explicit nudity.

Language

Isolated instances of strong language.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking and cigarette smoking.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 year old Written byThe Big E August 15, 2011

There is No Gene for the Human Spirit.

Quite frankly, if whoever is doing your reviews gave this movie only two stars, then he or she knows next to nothing about good science fiction. This movie is... Continue reading
Parent of a 6 and 10 year old Written byJayRo November 25, 2013

Consider God’s handiwork: who can straighten what He hath made crooked?

The CSM reviewer is way off when he says this movie doesn't contain a positive message. Quite the contrary. The character who prevails is the one who overc... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybubbo April 9, 2008

Gattaca

CSM was totally and completely wrong about this movie. This is a smart sc-fi thriller, one of the few Hollywood movies that entertains you and makes you think a... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byabbacus May 23, 2012

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 ...

  • Families can talk about this movie's themes of identity, competition, and the future society's notions of perfection. Cloning, genetic research, and identity theft may also be topics of discussion.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate