Not quite as Strange Days as we thought

For our new year's special, what better than a look back at James Cameron's couldn't-be-more-wrong scifi prediction as to how the millennium would go.

It may not be accurate, but Strange Days is a cyberpunk classic. Hit the jump to find out why:

Set in a vision of the eve of the year 2000 fuelled by pre-millennial paranoia, Cameron writes and produces for ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow to direct a dystopian vision of a Los Angeles about to erupt into civil unrest over police brutality; a topical issue in 1995.

The convoluted tale follows the fortunes of Ralph Fiennes' former cop-turned-drug dealer; only these are a very special type of drugs. Fiennes sends a variety of ne'er-do-well minions out on thrill-seeking missions, from robberies to ménage a trois, while wearing special skull caps under wigs that record their brainwaves onto disks. Fiennes then sells these disks to his clients who can play them back and experience the physical sensations vicariously.

Throw in a political conspiracy spiralling from one of Fiennes' guinea pigs accidentally recording the police murdering an outspoken celebrity, and a serial killer who feeds his enjoyment of his activities into his victims as he kills them, and you have a heady mix. The whole thing is just a little unlikely, and the relationships of the characters are no different.

Fiennes is perfect, but Angela Bassett would not be your first thought for his love interest, while Juliette Lewis as Fiennes' ex who ditched him to play rock star with Day Hollywood Stood Still favourite Michael Wincott's music producer, seems a better match for Fiennes after their mutual fall from grace. Tom Sizemore's scruffy private eye is also a little unstable for Fiennes' dashing Han Solo-esque rogue to be buddies with.

Nonetheless, the story is carried along nicely by the top-notch cast, also including a completely-wasted Vincent D'Onofrio, and all its faults can be overcome with a little suspension of disbelief. Otherwise, the film is chock full of nice moments and good ideas, while Near Dark director Bigelow clearly knows how to point a camera. The blacker-than-black outlook, with a little ray of light at the end, is Bigelow all over and offers the gritty with the decompress of a happy ending.

Strange Days' cult status is established, but it's a neglected classic nowadays, well worth picking up for a couple quid if you can.

1 comment:

  1. SInce the movie did not come "true" over the years I have come to view it as an alternate Earth. It works for me.