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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Virtuosity

Starring: Denzel Washington, Kelly Lynch
Director: Brett Leonard
Rated: R
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: August 1995
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense

*Also starring: Russell Crowe, Stephen Spinella, William Forsythe, Louise Fletcher, William Fichtner, Costas Mandylor, Kevin J. O'Connor, Costas Mandylor, Traci Lords

Review by Brian Koller
3 stars out of 4

"Virtuosity" is a campy, action-packed thriller with some elements of science fiction. Despite much violence and a few scenes that are difficult to believe, it is an enjoyable and interesting film that is underrated and worth a look.

Denzel Washington stars as an ex-cop with a troubled past: while seeking revenge on a taunting mass-murderer who killed his wife and daughter, he made the mistake of killing some others as well. He is now a prisoner, and a volunteer in a bizarre virtual reality experiment which has him tracking a sadistic and unpredictable computerized serial killer (Russell Crowe).

A plot device has Crowe placed free in the real world: an android with some interesting character traits. He has a massive need for attention, and his murders are intended as a lure for Washington, the only human that he has any respect for. Desperate federal officials release Washington from prison to hunt Crowe down, a task that Washington accepts with reluctance but performs with relish. He is joined by a criminal psychiatrist (Kelly Lynch) who matches Washington's humorless and determined disposition.

"Virtuosity" was a very enjoyable film for me to watch, a definite guilty pleasure. There are flaws however.

There is much gratuitous violence, most obviously in a prison fight scene that demonstrates nothing except that Washington is a tough guy that won't back down from a fight.

Since I am a software programmer myself, I had trouble with the fact that only *one* programmer was responsible for Crowe's software (he would need a dozen engineers at least) and of course that programmer is stereotyped as an effiminate "mad scientist". This engineer not only frees this killer, but enjoys his subsequent exploits with parental pride.

Washington's character has amazing resilence and courage, and is even willing to engage in hand to hand combat with the much stronger Crowe. Okay, but can Washington outrun the bullets from a half-dozen machine guns?

"Virtuosity" also has borrowed much of its plot from "The Terminator". Still, it is fun watching Crowe camp it up, and Washington's intensity is compelling.

Copyright 1996 Brian Koller

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