December 30th, 1999, is it the end of the world or the beginning of a new one. Lenny Nero [Ralph Feinnes] stalks the streets of Los Angeles, a street hustler, an ex-cop, a seller of stolen dreams. Lenny deals in "clips", digital recordings of real-life experiences packaged for a vicious thrill. He doesn't deal in "blackjacks"- recordings of death - but when a close associate is murdered by a ruthless killer, Lenny gets drawn into a sleazy and psychotic world of wealth, power and paranoia. Trying to protect his ex-love Faith [Juliette Lewis], Lenny is aided by the only two people he can trust, personal security expert Mace [Angela Bassett] and ex-cop and former colleague Max [Tom Sizemore], as he tries to stay alive to see the next millennium.
Not the worst sci-fi film I've seen, but it hasn't aged very well
- Strange Days review by RP
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You rated this film: 3
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow who had earlier directed 'Point Break', the almost so-bad-it's-good film about bank robbing surfer dudes, and went on to greater things with the Oscar-winning 'Hurt Locker', this is a sci-fi millennium apocalypse tale, released in 1995 and set on then-future New Year's Eve 1999.
The trouble with sci-fi films set in a specific time frame is that time overtakes them, and they look immediately dated. And so it proves here - rave parties, Rodney King style beatings, riots on the LA streets, leather trousers - yesterday's news I'm afraid. And of course the end-of-the-millennium proved to be pretty uneventful...
The film was produced and co-written by James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow's ex-husband and the storyline bears his stamp ('The Terminator', 'Aliens' etc) as do the richly and darkly realised backgrounds.
I like sci-fi films. This one isn't too bad, but I had a real problem with the plot (which boils down to a simple 'bad cop' story) and the acting.
The plot involves a sort of visual/emotional narcotic second-hand experience delivered by means of a SQUID (Superconducting QUantum Interference Device), a sort-of rubbery spider-like gadget (usually worn under a wig it appears) which delivers someone else's recorded memories and experiences via a sort-of MiniDisc player. The usually excellent Ralph Fiennes plays Lenny Nero, a weakling ex-cop who does dodgy deals in the software for such devices but who is sent a snuff recording... And so it goes. Also involved is Angela Bassett who has a strong role as a strong woman (whatever happened to her?) and Juliette Lewis as Lenny's sleazy ex, who gets to reveal a bit of chest and show off her rock singer credentials (she sings two PJ Harvey numbers).
Ralph Fiennes plays a weak character with a weak American accent and seemed seriously out of place here. Not one of his best roles, considering he'd done 'Schindler's List' a couple of years before.
Given that it involves snuff recordings and scenes of sexual violence, perhaps it's not surprising that the film was cut slightly for UK release. And there's a bit too much f-ing and blinding for my taste.
It's certainly not the worst sci-fi film I've seen but after the excellent opening the rest just hasn't aged very well, so I'll give it a pretty average 3/5 stars.