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fahreN­heiT 451 (Ramin Bahrani) up­dates Ray Brad­bury’s dystopian mas­ter­work for the age of proud ig­no­rance, fake news and so­cial-me­dia bub­bles, and for a while it’s a pretty good fit – cer­tainly, its con­cept of a to­tal­i­tar­ian near-future Amer­ica in­tent on sup­press­ing all revo­lu­tion­ary thought through the de­struc­tion of phys­i­cal me­dia makes a lot of sense right now. Bahrani’s adap­ta­tion, cowrit­ten with Amir Naderi, takes a num­ber of lib­er­ties with Brad­bury’s book, some of which work better than oth­ers – and when­ever a more wob­bly no­tion comes along, Michael B. Jor­dan and Michael Shan­non do a hell of a job sell­ing it. The core story is still that of “fire­man” Guy Mon­tag (Jor­dan), who goes from jack-booted gov­ern­ment book-burner to mem­ber of the re­sis­tance after he dis­cov­ers the power of the writ­ten word. (In this ver­sion, it’s Dos­to­evsky’s Notes From The Un­der­ground.) As Mon­tag’s com­mand­ing of­fi­cer, Shan­non is sad­dled with most of the ex­po­si­tion and a lot of fear­some pro­nounce­ments, but he adds a level of am­bi­gu­ity to his char­ac­ter that makes ev­ery­thing he does that much more in­ter­est­ing. But the longer the movie goes on, the more time we have to no­tice how small it feels, lim­ited by both the bud­get and the scope of its imag­i­na­tion. Bahrani’s never been great with end­ings, and he trades the novel’s Pyrrhic vic­tory for a smaller, more per­sonal tri­umph that doesn’t fully land. Pre­mier­ing on HBO Canada and streaming on HBO GO Satur­day (May 19) at 8 pm. 101 min. NNN (Nor­man Wilner)

Michael B. Jor­dan gets fired up in Fahren­heit 451.

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