Article

XCHANGE


STARRING: Stephen Baldwin, Pascale Bussières, Kim Coates, Kyle MacLachlan, Tom Rack, Arnold Pinnock, Sean Devine

2000, 110 Minutes, Directed by: Allan Moyle


Just how many Baldwin brothers are there? This isn't exactly a question that has been keeping me awake in the evenings, but the more pressing issue is: "who decided that they all should be in movies?"

XChange stars Stephen Baldwin, I don't know whether he is the oldest or the youngest of the Baldwins. I do know that he isn't the one who used to be married to Kim Bassinger. None of this really matters, the question remains: why is he in movies?!

XChange starts off as a moderately interesting cyberpunk-style thriller mixing elements of Face/Off and Total Recall. In the near future ("tomorrow" the movie helpfully informs us) it would be possible to exchange bodies - not possess them like in The Hidden, but basically swap minds around.

While you're pondering the possibilities of such a technology and its implications here (a certain scene involving a teenage girl in a shower in Strange Days comes to mind), let me point out that the best use people of the future could think of was instantaneous travel. Have to make an urgent meeting on the other side of the planet? No problem, just send your consciousness along the wires to a waiting body at the other end. That the people who have thought up such a technology have never heard of teleconferencing is a bit strange. The major airlines can't be too happy though.

To be fair, a better use for this technology in the movie involves some sex and a guy who changes bodies with his personal trainer: the trainer does his workouts for him and keeps his body fit! All of this is moderately interesting. Although if you have read any Robert Sheckley or perhaps John Varley, none of this will be new. Also, if you have read said authors, you'd also know that they knew what to do with such a plot device, while the best the writers of XChange could come up with was turning it into a chase movie as the hero gets chased around by corporate bad guys. (The hero is named Toffler by the way - one of several in-jokes throughout the movie. The movie thinks it is cleverer than it actually is.)

All of which is fine; until said Baldwin brother appears on the scene as the third "body" to be "inhabited" by Toffler. Bad move. Toffler should rather have chosen someone who can act. Instead Baldwin is so bad and so wooden that he inevitably drags the movie down with him. Soon my companion and I were hurling an endless torrent abuse and sarcastic comments at the screen. "Oscar performance," my companion groaned and rolled her eyes.

Is Stephen Baldwin bad enough to destroy the entire movie? Well, the rest of the movie isn't all that good. Cheaply made, the plot became quite convoluted. And no one could explain to me why everyone still drove late-twentieth century SUV models and wore suits. Just how cheaply made? There is a lot of female nudity in XChange, but as my companion remarked, they could only afford rather flat-chested bimbos. So cheap that they rented the Baldwin brother weren't even married to Kim Bassinger . . .

 



 

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