Starring: Michael B. Jordan (Guy Montag), and Michael Shannon (Captain Beatty)
Directed by: Ramin Bahrani
Adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s book Fahrenheit 451
Time watched: 1 (in two sittings)
In advance, I want to admit that I have never read the book Fahrenheit 451 or seen the old 1960s movie either. With that out of the way let’s get into it.
Short summary if you have not seen or read anything:
In a strange future, where the government has seemingly taken over everything, people are taking eye drops that apparently cause them to forget things. They have also put a ban on all books besides their approved ones. Any book you would want to read is on The 9 (the internet of sorts) but that is controlled and manipulated to fit the government’s will. They now have the “Firefighters” burning any illegal books that are found. This gives them some sort of celebrity status. Some of the most popular firefighters are Guy Montag (Michael B. Jordan) and his commander Captain Beatty (Michael Shannon). Quickly, you learn Guy has doubts when he runs into a woman who is part of the rebellion, also known as Eels. Eels are people who read and hide banned books. This encounter starts him on a quest to learn the truth. As you can imagine, this takes him down a path of discovery.
I initially went into this movie thinking it was about everyday firefighters, but I quickly found out that I was wrong. I didn’t know much about the movie, which sometimes can help the story line. Not this one. I think there are many parts of this movie that are supposed to convey a much deeper meaning and they probably work well in the book but in the movie it seems to fall short of that. My few examples would be the eye drops that people are taking. At one point Yuxie, the AI that is apparently all over the place and presumably watches everything you do, tells Montag that she was changing up his dose and he seemed to have no problem with it. A little later in the movie Montag finds a stash of things he has hidden but must have forgotten about which we are lead to believe is from the eye drops. I feel like these eye drops could have been used as a larger issue that Montag has to deal with in his discovery of information, but it is kind of brushed passed and we get one scene where he decides not to take them and that’s the end of it.
My other example for deep meaning falling short is with Captain Beatty and his drunken scribbles (seems to be quotes from books) on joint rolling paper that he later burns. I’m assuming through his years as Captain he has come into contact with a lot of books and presumably has read a few, which he speaks of briefly later in the movie. I think they were wanting this to show more of Beatty and his possible struggle with everything, but just comes off as him being a little wacky and really likes to safe guard his pen, which is also contraband I believe.
I also wanted to quickly talk about the “Ominis” which seems to be quickly rushed in later in the movie and is somehow fully understood by Beatty shortly after. With something as complex as them storing information in the DNA of a person, or animal, there should have more of an explanation then Beatty’s power point to his salamanders.
I found it hard to get emotionally invested in any of the characters, especially Montag who is the main focus. He has all of the flash backs of his father who we eventually find out has killed by Beatty and what fuels Montag to later kill him. Montag did not seem to have much emotion even in his “emotional” scenes.
Overall, I’m assuming the concept for the movie works a lot better as a book. I think it is an interesting idea but fell short as a movie. I may even have to check out the book to see the differences, or if they even followed it much.
Favorite Character: Yuxie (especially when covered by a lamp.)
Favorite Quote: Captain Beatty “Next time I tell you to follow someone, you crawl into their asshole!”
Let me know what you thought of the movie, enjoy!