295 user 231 critic

A Scanner Darkly (2006)

1:59 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

An undercover cop in a not-too-distant future becomes involved with a dangerous new drug and begins to lose his own identity as a result.



(novel), (screenplay)
3,468 ( 5)
4 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Brown Bear Lodge Host
Sean Allen ...
Additional Fred Scramble Suit Voice (voice)
Cliff Haby ...
Voice from Headquarters (voice)
Natasha Janina Valdez ...
Waitress (as Natasha Valdez)
Mark Turner ...
Additional Hank Scramble Suit Voice (voice)
Sarah Menchaca ...


In a totalitarian society in a near future, the undercover detective Bob Archor is working with a small time group of drug users trying to reach the big distributors of a brain-damaging drug called Substance D. His assignment is promoted by the recovery center New Path Corporation, and when Bob begins to lose his own identity and have schizophrenic behavior, he is submitted to tests to check his mental conditions. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What Does A Scanner See? See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug and sexual content, language and a brief violent image | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 September 2006 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Scanner Darkly  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$8,700,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$391,672, 9 July 2006

Gross USA:

$5,501,616, 12 October 2006

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,659,918, 17 May 2007
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


(At around one hour and five minutes) When Arctor (Keanu Reeves) and Connie (Lisa Marie Newmyer) are about to have sex, there is a brief view of the clock radio next to the bed. The clock shows the time as 4:20, a classic drug reference, fitting in with the theme of the film. See more »


When Luckman first brings in the bike, he lifts the front wheel into the air, holding the bike with both hands on the handle bars. As the scene cuts to a different angle while he is talking, one hand is now on the cross bar with the other still on the handle bars. See more »


[first lines]
Freck: [on the phone] I looked them up. They're aphids. They're in my hair, on my skin, in my lungs. And the pain, Barris, it's unreasonable. They're all over the place. Oh, they've completely gotten Millie too.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The "Phil" mentioned in the "in memoriam" list as having permanent pancreatic damage is Philip K. Dick himself. See more »


Referenced in Sherlock Holmes (2009) See more »


Part of the Plan
Performed by Graham Reynolds feat. The Golden Arm Trio
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Hazed and Dumfused
7 October 2008 | by See all my reviews

"Waking Life" was simply dumb, a collection of clever ideas or various forms ill handled. Though it was adventurous in a couple ways, it lacked the edge it could have had. So instead of changing the lives of a few people, it entertainingly mollified many.

This is much, much better. It attempts something that had structure and effect before it was a film. What it had going for it was Dick's (by now, finally) famous technique of layered observation, frangible motivation and passion. That passion was the most intense until "VALIS," and came from his own drugged life. It is a worthy book, possibly finding a new audience today with a new generation of thugs in government and drugs in life triggering newly emerging forms of paranoia.

What the film adds are some tricks that allow more literary internal dialog than is usual. I think it is simply because what we see is different enough that we allow the filmmaker more latitude than usual to extend conventional internal conventions: visions, dreams, metaphoric stories-within-stories and of course voice overs.

But there's more: It has some actors that understand the effects required. Robert Downey Jr in particular chills. This is his personal story as well. His own disaster was caused in large measure by our intrusion into his life, and having us literally watch him while the story is about being watched makes it more visceral and disturbing than the book could ever be.

The animation technique employed here works for me in all regards except one. That's because it is something still unfamiliar, between the abstraction of cartoon and the texture of "reality." The idea of pulling colors from the filmed palette is wise.

What fails for me is the cloaking device, which in the book is simply a blurring. Here what they try to do is serially overlay many visual personalities. I understand the practical reason; our eye needs to be kept busy. But it fights the terms of the alternative world they have created with the other elements of the technique, which have a calmness that we accept because it is closer to natural than artificial. It may be simply that the animators had to design roughly because of the number required, and these seem more cartoony than whatever else we see.

But all in all, I allow the deficiencies, and I suppose you will too.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 295 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page