Former policeman Lenny Nero has moved into a more lucrative trade: the illegal sale of virtual reality-like recordings that allow users to experience the emotions and past experiences of others. While they typically contain tawdry incidents, Nero is shocked when he receives one showing a murder.
It's simply great fun, a winsome film and an occasionally over-the-top luxury fantasy that never flags.
... View More
Bombastic assault on the senses disguised as a "brainy" sci-fi action film. Set in 1999, the film follows former cop turned fast-talking street hustler Ralph Fiennes, who specializes in selling disks containing the memories and emotions of people, which is apparently the drug du jour. When he stumbles on a disk containing the murder of a prostitute, he becomes embroiled in a police conspiracy, rape, murder and assorted sordid elements in order to rescue former girlfriend Juliette Lewis from peril.The premise for the film sounds a lot better than the execution and there is enough promise implicit in the material to give one the idea of what may have been if it had a director who could fashion a coherent narrative and sympathetic characters. As it stands, it is impossible to tell which element of the film eviscerates it first, or whether it is a cooperative effort. The film employs an ear-shattering soundtrack, chronic noise and flashing lights, and assorted irritating visual flourishes apparently believing that everyone in the audience suffers from ADHD.The storyline is convoluted to say the least and director Kathryn Bigelow seems to be on only a nodding acquaintance with it. Bigelow, whose entire directorial output could conceivably have been directed by a testicle in the throes of puberty, simply does not exist in the same zip code as logic or common sense, and often sacrifices it for the next big bang, which is never as exciting as she apparently believes it to be. She seems uncomfortable directing women and thus the misogyny is laid on with a trowel. The female characters in the film are on hand only to strip, be raped, be beaten or murdered. Even Angela Bassett's tough chauffeur/bodyguard is subjected to a graphic beating, which tastelessly draws parallels to the Rodney King beating of the era.The acting is a real mixed bag. Tom Sizemore and Vincent D'Onofrio trot out their stale sleazeball routines for another go-round. Fiennes, who seems to be jacked up on too much caffeine, has rarely been this aggravating on screen. Bassett fares best despite being badly directed, but still cannot make the last act attraction between her and Fiennes even remotely plausible. And just when you think things cannot get worse, Lewis comes on screen with a teeth-grindingly wretched performance that could single-handedly derail far better films.Bigelow and company try to tie up the film's voluminous loose ends in an unsuccessful final orgy of violence and exposition, but your patience will have long vanished before then. Despite attempts by Bigelow groupies to rehabilitate the film's image (it was both a critical and box office bust at the time), it still remains a shallow, unwatchable mess with entire passages so unappealing that your first instinct is to take a very hot shower and scrub away anything that might linger from having experienced it.
... View More
Have you ever wanted to experience life in someone else's shoes? Wanted to feel what they felt? See exactly what they say? See what another sees through his/her mind? Strange Days takes you closer to this than ever before, turning adrenaline junkies into full-fledged addicts. Brand new at the literal turn of the century this highly addictive and as of yet unattainable type of Virtual Reality takes over the city. One in which Adrenaline junkies get addicted to the high of living vicariously through the memories of other people. Dealers deal "hardware" and "clips". The story follows Nero, one such dealer. While there are difficulties with the plot this film forces us to live the reality of that which entertains us. Rather than inundating the audience with random acts of violence as simple entertainment, we are forced to recognize individual acts of violence as memories in people's real lives. We are able to see our own death through the eyes of our killer. This Virtual Reality experience highlights the sordid reality of what entertains us as people.
... View More
"Oh Boy was it strange. It took a while to get into and even then I wasn't completely sold. The actors and characters were the only thing that really held this film together. The entire story seemed like a giant 90's cliché with a very jumpy plot. Those who aren't into science fiction might have a hard time keeping up and getting hooked.The story follows Lenny Nero, a former cop who now deals with dealing data disks that contain stored memories and emotions. Several days before the new millennium everyone is paranoid and acting rampant anticipating the world will end. Everyone is toting guns, swapping girls, acting on edge. Lenny gets a package with stored data and memories of a prostitute who is raped and murdered. This begins a spiral of events that open his eyes to relative murders like that of a rapper in the community and how each individual is involved. The scenes are suspenseful and show pure chaos in the streets including brutality and fires. Two dirty cops chase him in search of a disk that contains sensitive information. Meanwhile, Lenny's ex girlfriend Faith is now involved in a bad group and a new boyfriend name Philo. Lenny knows she's in danger but isn't sure how and gives her a way out, but she refuses.I really enjoyed the strong female role of Mace as she put Lenny in his place and reamed him out for not being a true friend and just using her for when it was convenient to him. She also explains that his life is just a series of scams and crooked jobs, essentially calling him out. There were a lot of terms that were confusing and difficult to understand without further analysis. A Squid is the device placed upon the cranium that helps playback the memories. I liked the slow reveal of pieces of information that help piece together previous information. When Mace watches the tape we learn how Jerrico was murdered and why Iris was on the run. However the movie was long winded and seemed to drag at parts. It's a different and unique film that covers content relevant to us now and could be relevant in the future as technology advances. Our culture has also placed heavy value on law enforcement and their duty to be inherently good. Not my favorite film and may not directly recommend it to any of my friends, but something to watch if you like a little gore, action, mild romance and science fiction."
... View More
Before going into this review, I was under the impression that this film was going to be an action-packed, futuristic, sci-fi experience when in reality it more closely resembled a "what if scenario" of the world (or apparently just LA) going down the drain. It plays on a lot of people's fears about the end of the world and conspiracy theories, especially back then with the uncertainty of ringing in the new millennium. With that out of the way, I found the concept of being able to record memories and loading them onto disks to be shared to be very intriguing because of the possibilities for asynchronous communication. While not being able to communicate instantaneously, it should be noted that the sharing of memories and even physical sensations gave users the sense of looking through another person's eyes (or living in another man's shoes). The film's take on virtual reality was something I'd never seen before played out. As seen in the film, this can and was easily abused, being illegally marketed in the form of a digital drug and using them as surveillance to spy on people.