"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
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
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