I really wanted to like this film. I caught the buzz about it after last year's Toronto Film Festival and thought it sounded right up my alley. A noirish, sci-fi, detective story starring Tim Robbins... sounds like a winner just from that description alone, right? Unfortunately, that's not the case.
The general gist of the story is that due to rapid cloning and in vitro births, before you get romantically involved with someone, you have to be screened to make sure you don't share any similar DNA. If you do, no relationship, no love. You're forbidden from seeing each other. If you do choose to secretly date or procreate, you've broken the law, You're in violation of Code 46. So there are lots of cool angles that could've been played up in the film about forbidden love, following your heart, and getting what you truly want. Well, they tried to make something out of this, but ultimately failed.
What happens is that basically Tim Robbins is an investigator trying to track down a criminal who is forging fake travel documents. He has taken an empathy virus so he can read people's minds to a limited extent. (Another cool idea they did not really use to their advantage.) He finds out that Samantha Morton's character did it, but he falls in love with her and does not turn her in. Instead they have a one night stand, he collars the wrong guy and lets her go free. Then, in a nutshell, he eventually discovers that Samantha Morton is a clone of his mother (wha...huh?) and that she's pregnant with his baby and they've violated Code 46. They try and escape to "the outside" but are eventually caught. He has his memories of her erased and she's exiled into the desert. Yes, there's a little more to it than this, but the above summary is all you need to know. Oh, and it all takes place in Shanghai, which is an enclosed city to keep the bad poor folk out.
The movie is SLOW. Bo-ring! It moves at a snail's pace as we watch these two make goo-goo eyes at each other, talk in this weird dialect of all the romance languages jumbled together with Chinese, and "supposedly" fall in love. Their acting left me unconvinced. Yes, it has its moments, but they are few and far between. Tim Robbins is great, very loose and cool, but that's when he's alone. When he's in scenes with her he becomes totally unlikeable. But the movie's biggest problem is Samantha Morton. Yes, she's a great actress, and yes, she looks good in interviews and appearences. So why the hell does she look so hideous in every movie I've seen her in? They cut off her hair and try to make her look as god awful as can be. As the lead of the film and main love interest, she looks so bad you have absolutely no attraction to her. You can't sympathize with her. You can't feel for her. You really just want them to catch her and lock her up so you don't have to see her again. Please, someone put this woman in a role where she can live up to her potential!
So no, I don't recommend this movie. Don't even bother to watch it on cable.