GATTACA (1997) Reviews and overview

‘There is no gene for the human spirit’

Gattaca is a 1997 dystopian science-fiction thriller about a genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one – in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.

Written and directed by Andrew Niccol (Anon; Good Kill; The Host), the movie stars Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law, Ernest Borgnine, Alan Arkin and Gore Vidal. Produced by Danny DeVito, Gail Lyon, Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher.

New release:

Gattaca will be released by Sony Pictures on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and Digital newly restored in 4K from the original camera negative in Steelbook packaging on March 23 2021.  Special features:

Welcome to Gattaca featurette
Deleted scenes
Blooper reel


In the not-too-distant future, Vincent (Ethan Hawke), a less-than-perfect man wants to travel into space. Society has categorized Vincent as less than suitable given his genetic make-up and he has become one of the underclasses of humans that are only useful for menial jobs.

To move ahead, he assumes the identity of Jerome Morrow (Jude Law), a perfect genetic specimen who is a paraplegic as a result of a car accident. With professional advice, Vincent learns to deceive DNA and urine sample testing. Just when he is finally scheduled for a space mission, his program director is killed and the police begin an investigation, jeopardizing his secret…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

Gattaca is a remarkably good-looking movie; odd Scandinavian furniture, starkly forbidding concrete architecture, and a crisp Modernist look give the film a consistent sensibility of near-future corporate totalitarianism. The acting is almost as inorganic: Hawke does a merely adequate job as a societal infiltrator, Uma Thurman fails to generate any heat as Hawke’s love interest, and only Law provides any depth as a bitter, shattered husk of a once-superior person.” AV Club


“Not really a thriller at all, it’s all a bit cerebral. Maybe it should, but it never gets boring. Sci-fi fans will like, maybe even love, this exceptionally good-looking and fascinating production. Other viewers, especially anyone who doesn’t warn to Hawke’s odd screen persona, may find it a total turn-off.” Derek Winnert

“The premise would have been frightening in 1997, but given the advances in genetic research since then, now it’s down-right petrifying. This, coupled with the fact that there’s little levity in the film certainly takes Gattaca off of the “party movie” list. But, there’s no denying that this is a beautifully crafted, well-acted, and engrossing movie.” DVD Sleuth

“A low-key science fiction movie that may not rely on original ideas but nevertheless address themes hat will always resonate. The story requires attention from viewers and those who stick with it will be rewarded in the end. Emotional, suspenseful and realistic to a certain degree, the movie has good performances and an inspiring message of achieving whatever is regarded as impossible.” Hedmark

“Considerable ingenuity has been placed into thinking out how law enforcement might work in such a society based on genetic class and even more into thinking out the steps a criminal might have to go to get around such. Stars Ethan Hawke and especially Uma Thurman seem slightly blank but Jude Law gives a performance that has an appealingly acerbic bite as the wheelchair-ridden genetic benefactor.” Moria

Gattaca, an impressively fine-tuned first feature from Andrew Niccol […] The film is set in “the not-too-distant future,” and indeed it succeeds as a scarily apt extension of present-day attitudes. But beyond the ingenuity of its premise, Gattaca also holds interest with its obsessive attention to detail.” The New York Times, October 24, 1997

“Filmmaker Andrew Niccol, making his debut here, delivers a deliberately-paced yet mostly spellbinding sci-fi drama that benefits substantially from its eerie, spare visuals and production design, as well as the uniformly compelling performances from its various actors, with, in terms of the latter, Hawke’s persistently spellbinding turn as the sympathetic protagonist matched by an eclectic supporting cast…” Reel Film Reviews

“The average thriller, even if it’s set in a faraway or futuristic world, tends to offer visceral, ephemeral excitement, and not much else. However, while Gattaca has the energy and tautness to compare with the best of those, its thought-provoking script and thematic richness elevate it to the next level.” Reel Views

“Gattaca is the remarkable debut of a writer-director from New Zealand, Andrew Niccol, whose film is intelligent and thrilling–a tricky combination–and also visually exciting. His most important set is a vast office where genetically superior computer programmers come to work every day, filing into their long rows of desks like the office slaves in King Vidor’s The Crowd and Orson Welles’ The Trial.”

“Unfortunately, Hawke is weak. He’s adequate, not embarrassing, but he doesn’t seem special enough, or driven and impassioned enough, to hook us into Vincent’s dream. Actually, the film might have been better had Hawke and Jude Law, who plays Jerome, switched roles. Law is the acting discovery of Gattaca. His performance has the fierceness and emotional complexity that Hawke’s lacks.” San Francisco Chronicle

“I’m not going to waste energy talking about Niccol’s directing or the film’s style–it’s perfect, but lots of films have perfect direction and style and fail (and lots have neither and succeed… to some degree, anyway). Niccol’s created a situation where one can appreciate the truly beautiful things people can do for each other.” The Stop Button

Cast and characters:

Ethan Hawke … Vincent / Jerome
Uma Thurman … Irene
Gore Vidal … Director Josef
Xander Berkeley … Lamar
Jayne Brook … Marie
Elias Koteas … Antonio
Maya Rudolph … Delivery Nurse
Una Damon … Head Nurse
Elizabeth Dennehy … Pre-School Teacher
Blair Underwood … Geneticist
Mason Gamble … Younger Vincent
Vincent Nielson … Younger Anton
Chad Christ … Young Vincent
William Lee Scott … Young Anton
Clarence Graham … Personnel Officer
Ernest Borgnine … Caesar
Tony Shalhoub … German
Jude Law … Jerome / Eugene
Alan Arkin … Detective Hugo
Carlton Bembry … Gattaca Hoover (as Carlton Benbry)
Susan Jennifer Sullivan … Sequencing Customer (as Grace Sullivan)
Ken Marino … Sequencing Technician
Cynthia Martells … Cavendish
Loren Dean … Anton
Gabrielle Reece … Gattaca Trainer
Ryan Dorin … Twelve Fingered Pianist
Dean Norris … Cop on the Beat
Russell Milton … Gattaca Detective
George Marshall Ruge … Beaten Detective
Steve Bessen … Blood Test Detective
Lindsey Ginter … Mission Commander (as Lindsey Lee Ginter)

Technical details:

106 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.39: 1
Audio: Dolby Digital | SDDS | DTS | Dolby Atmos


First ten minutes:


Leave your comment here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.