Kathryn Bigelow’s ambitious, futuristic tale is a rambling opus that features just enough fresh elements to qualify as a recommendation. This is a technically dazzling film that attempts to tell a traditional murder mystery within the framework of a sci-fi thriller. The most surprising aspect of the story is a sub-plot about an assassinated militant rap artist, this creates turmoil in the streets between citizens and law enforcement. All of this takes place on the last days of the millennium as growing concerns mounts and general anarchy is the rule of the day.
Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) is a disgraced former cop, who has moved into the world f dealing ‘playback’. A virtual reality experience that allows user to get full sensory enjoyment of recordings done by others. These VR experiences come in all genres, sex, action, drama, and other typically distasteful incidents.
Things are disrupted when Nero receives a recording of someone’s murder. He teams with his best friend, a tough as nails female bodyguard Mace (Angela Bassett), to find the killer and survive the night. All of this takes place on the eve of the new millennium, with police and civilians in near riotous moods. Before long, Nero and Mace are caught in a conspiracy that involves politicians, law enforcement and numerous others.
Coming off of Point Break (an absolute instant classic), Bigelow’s follow-up is a bit of a let-down. Particularly, because James Cameron and Jay Cocks assembled the screenplay and it’s an unwieldy tales that suffers from over-plotting. The miscast Fiennes has zero chemistry with Basset leaving their character’s developing love story as a weak spot in the narrative. A stirring concept not fully realized by a talented filmmaker.
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis