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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

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Dragan Antulov review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  Brian Koller read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review

Review by Dragan Antulov
1½ stars out of 4

Considering the popularity of serial killers and virtual reality in 1990s Hollywood, it was only matter of time before those two trends would be used in a single film. This encounter happened in VIRTUOSITY, 1995 science fiction thriller directed by Brett Leonard.

The plot is set in 1999 AD. Protagonist is Parker Barnes (played by Denzel Washington), former policeman who is imprisoned for taking law into his own hands in order to avenge murdered family. In exchange for reduced sentence he agrees to work as guinea pig in government laboratory that develops virtual reality programs for training policemen. His worst virtual adversary is vicious Sid 6.7 (played by Russell Crowe), composite of 183 worst real-life villains. Thanks to his creator, Dr. Darren Lindenmeyer (played by Anthony Spinella), Sid 6.7 manages to connect with silicon-based nano- machine and thus get material life. He escapes from the facility and starts causing mayhem on the streets of Los Angeles. Parker Barnes is the only one who has some chance of stopping him, so he is released for prison and the struggle between two former VR opponents is continuing in real life.

Director Brett Leonard was known for his work on LAWNMOWER MAN, one of Hollywood's first films and one of the worst of the genre. This fact alone would make any experienced viewer to reconsider spending 106 minutes in front of screen. His direction, however, is not the worst thing about VIRTUOSITY. The real problem is Eric Bernt's script which could serve as an encyclopaedia of all recent Hollywood cliches. Here we have all-too-familiar pseudo-futuristic setting of 1999 Los Angeles (Berndt, like many other Hollywood screenwriters, overestimated abilities of future technology), policeman tormented by tragic past, god-like serial killer, only one man who could catch the killer, child in danger, female character that serves as mere decoration etc. Somewhere along the line Bernt even dug out ancient "mad scientist" cliche. Otherwise dependable Denzel Washington knew that he didn't play in particularly inspired film, so he sleepwalked through the role. Same goes for Russell Crowe who used to be much more impressive (and realistic) villain in ROMPER STOMPER. Couple of nice CGI effects and occasional funny line make VIRTUOSITY watchable, but barely.

Copyright 2003 Dragan Antulov

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