“Xchange”, despite being a rather good movie, makes one generalization that nearly sinks it. At its heart, the movie claims that all corporations, and the corporate structure, are inherently evil. Which leads me to these ironic questions: What corporation financed this movie? Without corporations, who would build that nice little pad the idealistic reporter lives in? Or run the city? Or provide her paycheck? Or keep her lights on, her telephone running, and her gas flowing? I guess in the world of naÃ¯ve anti-corporate idealistic types, Fairy Gnomes go around providing the luxuries of life for free. Gee, it must be nice to be so simple-minded.
Besides its childish retort of capitalism, “Xchange” is a pretty decent movie, with a good cast and a screenplay that manages some very good moments. The only thing that keeps the film from being outstanding is its limited budget, which means director Allan Moyle (“Pump Up the Volume”) can’t realize every detail of “Xchange’s” “world of tomorrow”. The screenplay by Christopher Pelham is probably too ambitious, but you have to give the man credit for a novel idea and some unexpected plot twists.
“Xchange” is about Toffler, a corporate mouthpiece whose body is stolen by a corporate terrorist name Fisk. With Fisk out there using his body to kill people in the name of ridding the world of those eee-vil corporate types, Toffler has to evade the authorities and the corporation that “lost” his body in the first place. Kim Coates (“Blackhawk Down”) plays Toffler pre-theft, while Kyle MacLachlan (“Showgirls”) shows up briefly as the pre-theft Fisk, and then later as the post-body transfer Toffler. Stephen Baldwin (“Dead Awake”) plays Toffler post-theft as well as playing other clones that are used, in this futuristic world, for dangerous manual labor.
French beauty Pascale Bussieres is Madeleine, the idealistic journalist. Madeleine despises corporations, but one gets the sense that her adamant hatred stems more from ex-lover Toffler’s unceremonious dumping of her years ago instead of her indignation at the corporate structure’s eee-vil ways. After his body is stolen, Toffler seeks out the crusading journalist to help get back his body. Can you say, “Gee, that’s ironic”? (Irony, you’ll find, fills Pelham’s not-so-subtle screenplay, including a scene where two corporate bigwigs practically, er, screw each other over.)
It has to be said that the budget of “Xchange” doesn’t do its story justice. In a world where people can swap bodies by putting on a metal headband doohickey, gas-guzzling cabs and ’70s Chevys still roam the streets of New York. Homes are run by automated artificial intelligence, but cops are still carrying around automatic handguns. Needless to say, “Xchange’s” futuristic vibe works best when the movie is indoors, where the illusion of advanced technology is easier to sell.
If you could ignore the naÃ¯ve nature of “Xchange’s” anti-corporate message, the movie is very entertaining. Allan Moyle manages to hide the movie’s shortcomings with good camerawork and the actors all do decent jobs, especially Bussieres and Baldwin. MacLachlan isn’t in the movie long enough to make an impact, and Kim Coates (that’s a man, if you were wondering) plays the villain as too stiff and unconvincing. MacLachlan, during his brief stay, played a better villain.
“Xchange” is a surprisingly enjoyable film, and manages to overcome much of its visual shortcomings. And while the movie’s themes of corporate evils lack subtlety, at least it’s not as poorly written and executed as “Power Play”, which practically re-defined stupid and clich’d moviemaking. And oh, like a lot of action movies, “Xchange” manages to have its climactic fight in an old refinery of sorts. Although I believe there wasn’t any steam shooting off randomly this time around.
Allan Moyle (director) / Christopher Pelham (screenplay)
CAST: Stephen Baldwin …. Clone #1/Toffler 3
Pascale Bussieres …. Madeleine Renard
Kim Coates …. Toffler/Fisk 2
Kyle MacLachlan …. Fisk/Toffler 2