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Kelly Parks
XChange
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SHOULD YOU?
TIP JAR
XCHANGE - 2000
USA Release: January 19, 2001
Coolbrook Media / Locomotion Films / Trimark Pictures
Rating: Argentina: 13 / Germany: 16 / UK: 18 / USA :R

You know how you treat a rental car? You say things to yourself like, "I've always wondered what would happen if I put it in reverse while I'm doing 80." Can you see where I'm going with this? No? Have you ever said to a friend, "Damn! She's so ugly I wouldn't do her with your ..." Oh, you get it now? Okay.

This is another near-future-evil-corporation flick, but not a bad one. Allan Moyle directed XCHANGE and Christopher Pelham wrote it. The title refers to a powerful corporation that can transfer your mind into another body.

The corporate class (called "corpies" in the movie) is the elite Hollywood screenwriters always imagine them to be. Being on top of the social ladder has a bad side, which we see in the form of an assassination, done with a high tech robot plane that fires a tiny (but effective) missile at Eisner Scott (Scot Denton: DEADLY APPEARANCES [TV], THE VIRGIN SUICIDES). Scott was the CEO of a San Francisco based corporation. The drone was launched from miles away by an assassin named Fisk (Kyle MacLachlan: DUNE, BLUE VELVET, TWIN PEAKS [TV]).

Meanwhile, in New York, a corpie named Toffler (Kim Coates: BATTLEFIELD EARTH, INNOCENT BLOOD, SILENT HILL) arrives at work and receives unpleasant news. His company had a close relationship with the deceased Mr. Scott's company so Toffler's boss insists Toffler make an appearance at the board meeting in San Francisco where a new CEO will be chosen. Unfortunately there's no time for a plane. Toffler's boss orders him to the local XChange.

There are lots of things one can do with tech that can transfer minds but the main use here is a sort of instantaneous travel. Toffler needs to be in San Francisco so arrangements are made with someone in San Francisco who has business in New York. Both people show up at the XChange office, sit in a classic sci-fi mind transfer chair and wake up in the other person's body. When their business is concluded they return to XChange and are transferred home.

Toffler, who's never done this before (it's very expensive), is nervous but wakes up okay in a loaner body in San Francisco. He looks in a mirror and we see that he's now in the body of Fisk, the assassin! Toffler has no reason to suspect anything is wrong and goes to his business meeting.

At the meeting Toffler runs into Madeleine Ranard (Pascale Bussieres: TWILIGHT OF THE ICE NYMPHS), an ex-girlfriend and an anti-corpie activist. I wonder if they'll get back together? Also at the meeting is the dead CEO's son, Quayle Scott (Charles Powell: FEAR OF THE DARK), who seems to recognize Toffler's current body.

TRIVIA
This movie was directed by Allan Moyle and written by Christopher Pelham, neither of whom appear to have taken an interest in Scifi Thrillers before or since. Too bad. XCHANGE was a promising start.

The fun begins when Toffler returns to XChange to transfer back to his body. It turns out that whoever is using his body in New York hasn't returned it yet. In fact, he's … uh … missing. As if that's not enough, Toffler is told the body he's currently using (the Kyle MacLachlan body) was stolen by whoever has also apparently stole Toffler's body. He'll have to return the current body immediately, but the company offers to transfer Toffler into a GEF (pronounced "Jeff", for Genetically Engineered something or other). All the GEF units are clones played by Stephen Baldwin (DEAD AWAKE).

Toffler suspects that the XChange corporation is trying to sweep the problem under the rug, and him along with it. The GEF clones only last for a week and he knows if his body isn't found by then it's lights out. Toffler is a man of action and decides to find his body himself. He tricks a technician into transferring him into an industrial class (very strong) GEF body and Baldwin plays Toffler for the rest of the film.

This is an intriguing, dark future. A post-terrorist attack America (accidentally prophetic!) includes a strictly enforced curfew for all citizens and immediate arrest if you're caught not wearing your trackable ID tag. And the body transfer technology has spawned a subculture of "floaters", people who trade bodies and party like there were no consequences. I like science fiction that considers the implications of their central technology.

And speaking of tech, let's have a quick

!!!SCIENCE MOMENT!!!:
I'll ignore the rapid transmission (over the internet?) of a human mind. Although I suspect the data rate involved would be astronomical it's still very much an open question just how much information constitutes a consciousness so I'll let that pass.

The problem comes with the last few inches as the information arrives at the brain you're being transferred to. Your mind is a result of a great deal of complex biochemistry and physical connections between neurons in your brain. For a new mind to occupy your brain all those connections would have to be broken and new ones established. I can't imagine how to do that but I won't say it's impossible. I will say that doing such a thing would take a long time, maybe months. Your brain just isn't made for the rapid download of so much new information.

The story is formula but not bad. I give X-CHANGE three shriek girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2002 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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