Fahrenheit 451 Fails To Turn Up The Heat
Adapted from the novel of the same name, Fahrenheit 451 begins promisingly enough with some impressive world building but much like a fire lacking oxygen, quickly fizzles out long before the final credits in this lethargic sci-fi thriller. The film is buoyed somewhat by some decent acting from the cast and a slick visual design certainly helps give the film a gritty, moody tone. Unfortunately the lack of action and any sort of excitement for vast periods of the run time make this a disappointing film at best.
Using the skeletal frame of the book for reference, Fahrenheit 451 takes place in a dystopian future where the world has done away with books and written knowledge; instead rewriting history for a care-free society fit for those at the top to craft a world in their image. At the heart of this controversial world is Guy Montag (Michael B. Jordan), a charismatic man carrying out the plans of his superior Captain Beatty (Michael Shannon) without question. When Guy happens upon a chance encounter with a young girl he begins to question his own actions and those around him, leading to a rebellion against the new-world society.
It’s certainly an intriguing concept and for those who haven’t read the book, Director Ramin Bahrani does a great job, especially early on, building a believable futuristic world complete with news reports broadcast on skyscrapers and futuristic technology throughout. Once the world-building subsides and the story settles into a consistent rhythm, Fahrenheit 451 quickly devolves into a mundane, uneventful film complete with contrived questions around the impact technology has on our lives. While the ideas explored aren’t wholly original, the handling of these themes is clumsy to say the least.
Thankfully, Michael Shannon’s performance is as absorbing as it is captivating and seeing him in his shadowy role makes the more mundane parts of this picture worth persevering with. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for his counterpart and lead protagonist Michael B. Jordan. While his performance isn’t necessarily bad per-se, it’s not particularly inspiring either and feels very run-of-the-mill for large stretches of the film.
Ultimately Fahrenheit 451 feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. The important themes are clumsily handled and feel contrived in their message, made more prominent by the large, mundane stretches of the film that don’t really move the plot forward in a meaningful way. Even excluding the book as a reference, Fahrenheit 451 fails to turn up the heat making it a disappointing and largely forgettable film.