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Trimark Pictures presents
Xchange (2000)

"I have 47 hours to live. How's that for trouble?"
- Stefan Toffler (Stephen Baldwin)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: May 01, 2001

Stars: Stephen Baldwin, Kyle Maclachlan, Kim Coates
Other Stars: Pascale Bussieres, Arnold Pinnock
Director: Allan Moyle

Manufacturer: Technicolor
MPAA Rating: R
Run Time: 01h:49m:15s
Release Date: April 24, 2001
UPC: 031398763222
Genre: sci-fi


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B C+C+B D+

DVD Review

In the exciting world of tomorrow, Stefan Toffler (Kim Coates) wakes up to the voice of "George," a high-tech, computerized helper who performs the daily functions in his apartment. Their impersonal bond is the only connection at home for this corporate executive, and it shows that human relations have not progressed in the future. By this time, scientists have developed the process of "floating" - the ability for a person's consciousness to jump into another body. This fascinating, but morally troubling process sadly seems to serve as only a convenient toy for rich businessmen looking to save time. In this world, a person's identity is even further lessened by the ability to "float" into different bodies.

Xchange springs from an intriguing Face/Off-like science fiction scenario where the hero swaps bodies with that of a psychotic killer. To reach an important meeting in time, Toffler must "float" into the body of James Fisk (Kyle Maclachlan) - a corporate terrorist who kills with creative and deadly methods. Of course, he fails to realize this mistake, and now he must fight to reclaim his original body from Fisk. To avoid capture from the authorities, Toffler enters the body of a clone (Stephen Baldwin) and returns to stop a major conspiracy. Are you still following me? In actuality, the plot is fairly easy to follow and includes some nice touches that keep the story interesting. One of these is the idea of the "floating bar," a place for inhabitants of other bodies to mingle and act out their fantasies. There's virtually no accountability in this place, and people are able to become anything they want to be.

Despite a compelling concept, this film suffers from dull characterizations, especially in the Toffler character and the villainous Fisk. Three actors with completely different styles play Toffler, yet none of them can overcome the fact that he's just not an interesting hero. It's difficult to understand why the striking and intelligent activist Madeleine Ranard (Pascale Bussieres) would fall for him after his poor treatment of her in the past. Although his predicament is interesting, his persona just doesn't inspire much caring about the final outcome. It's amazing to see Kyle Machlachlan generate such an impressive performance from this wooden character. He hits all the right emotional points and perfectly plays a man living in a foreign body. Unfortunately, Machlachlan disappears fairly early on and is replaced by Stephen Baldwin, who fits the more typical action-star persona. He performs adequately, but doesn't really have to stretch much in terms of acting skills. It's even more frustrating to see the limitations placed on the Fisk character, who makes a grand entrance and then turns into a conniving brat. When Kim Coates takes over the character, he lacks the cool brutality that Machlachlan brought to him in the early scenes.

Although this film lacks the budget to create monster backgrounds, there are some nice sets here. Since it takes place in the near-future, the landscape resembles today's world, with some subtle differences. In this slightly fascist world, ID cards are required everywhere to maintain order. Also, shops are available to sell the latest technological gadgets and deadly weapon. One particular item is able to simple remove matter (even skin) simply by placing it near the item, and that provides for one of the hair-raising moments. Also interesting are the miniature missiles that fly around the sky seeking their prey. Instead of causing mass destruction, they're available for a more personal type of killing.

In terms of genre, Xchange begins as a small, impressive science fiction film, but it slowly begins to revert towards a simpler action caper. By the end, it becomes yet another race-against-the-clock story that will obviously end in only one manner. Also, the villains' plans are fairly simplistic and lack the ingenuity necessary to create a compelling thriller. In one of the worst scenes, Fisk makes the typical James Bond-style error and avoids the chance to kill the heroes. Instead, he decides to reveal his plans and give them a chance to save the day. While this is entertaining in the Bond films, it comes across as just an easy route here to avoid plot complexity. Why make Toffler discover the plans when you can just tell him outright? As the story progresses, it continues to follow the simpler path, and this takes away from a possible exciting finale. It remains mildly interesting, but it's still unfortunate because an excellent film was hidden somewhere within all the clichés.



Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Xchange features a mediocre 1.85:1 nonanamorphic widescreen transfer that is lacking in several key areas. The black levels are poor, especially during certain scenes, and a poor focus exists with the brighter colors. The darker images contain a high amount of grain, and the colors appear muted and bleached out well past what was desired. The hazy picture varies considerably from shot to shot, and it signifies that Trimark should have taken a little more time with this transfer. There are a few nice images, including the overhead shots of the city from the viewpoint of the guided missile, but the overall product is a disappointment.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: It's unfortunate that this disc lacks a 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer. With all the gun shots, missile explosions, and fight scenes in this film, it would have enhanced the action and provided depth to the scenes. However, this 2.0-channel Dolby Surround transfer does nicely convey the numerous impressive sounds with power and clarity. Given the limits of this sound field, it still keeps the story moving and doesn't draw any negative attention. The dialogue is easily understood, and the action still moves at an impressive pace.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The lone extra feature is the full-screen original theatrical trailer, which presents the major plot points in exciting fashion. This disc does include the option of choosing Spanish, French, or English subtitles, which is surprising, considering the lack of any significant supplements. A director or writer's commentary or in-depth documentary would have been a nice addition to this release. It would have been interesting to hear the motives behind the film and its possible connection to today's society.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Xchange begins with an interesting concept and moves well for a while, but it sputters when it starts moving closer towards a simple action film concept. Kyle Machlachlan shines in a fairly brief but memorable performance, but the rest of the cast falters, especially Kim Coates. The final result is a combination of intriguing ideas and scenes mixed with dull, clichéd moments and characters.

 


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