Strange Days

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strangedays.gif

You know you want it.

1995

Genres:
Sci-Fi, Action, Crime, Mystery

Starring:
Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott

Summary:
Ex-cop Lenny (Fiennes) has made a name for himself as an underground dealer in virtual reality experiences called "wires." With each tape, the user can see, hear, and feel a pre-recorded experience. Lenny's world of surface sleaze takes a deadly turn when he discovers the existence of a tape that records a woman's brutal rape and death.

With the help of chaffeur and security guard Mace (Bassett) and long-time friend Max (Sizemore), Lenny stumbles onto a huge conspiracy that somehow involves his ex-love Faith (Lewis) and her new creepy mogul boyfriend (Wincott) as well as the LA police.

On the night of the new millenium Lenny and Mace uncover the awful truth and betrayal surrounding the mystery of the death tapes.

Response:
I loved Strange Days, and I'm still amazed at how unpopular it is. It's a gritty thriller that takes a standard sci-fi element (the virtual reality experience) and weaves an intricate and engrossing mystery around it. This movie is a thriller/mystery first and a sci-fi flick second, but the combination is brilliant. Lenny's gradual discovery of the conspiracy parallels the audience's understanding also. The twists at the end, although not as punchy as other films like Usual Suspects or Primal Fear are still noteworthy.

The 1999 Las Angeles setting is understandably realistic since it only took place four years after the movie's completion. The premise itself is also very believable in that the virtual reality experience is similar to drug use. Therefore, I guess this movie could be boiled down to a drug dealer with a heart of gold trying to do the right thing and uncover a conspiracy where the good guys are actually the baddies.

The best part of this movie would have to be the performances given by Fiennes and Bassett. Fiennes is excellent as the unhappy and jaded (but still remarkably sexy) ex-hero; he still cares about his life, but he doesn't know it. Bassett delivers an impassioned performance as tough Mace who has a soft hidden spot for the ex-cop who helped her family out years ago. The chemistry between the two is great and culminates in the best screen kiss I can remember in a movie.

It's also nice to see a chick repeatedly save the hero for once. If nothing else, this movie showcases Bassett's formidable girlie muscles.

Strange Days is a movie that brings up all sorts of issues, like drug use, racism, and technology's darker possibilites. A very realistic sci-fi film, it's a disturbing and gritty look at the underbelly of a potential future.

Point Blank:
An underappreciated sci-fi film worth watching