~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ eye WEEKLY August 10 1995 Toronto's arts newspaper .....free every Thursday ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ON SCREEN ON SCREEN ONSCREEN
VIRTUOSITYStarring Denzel Washington, Kelly Lynch and Russell Crowe. Screenplay by Eric Bernt. Directed by Brett Leonard. (AA)
Borrowing from Altered States (or maybe Pinocchio) -- i.e., something internal or inanimate unexpectedly manifests itself as a living being -- Virtuosity puts the machine back into deus ex machina: Sid 6.7 busts out of his cyber-cocoon and gets about wreaking havoc on the real world.
Ex-cop Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington) recognizes among the killers in Sid's psychological makeup the terrorist who blew his family to smithereens a few years back.
Australian star Crowe's (The Sum Of Us) Sid is the best thing in Virtuosity: genuinely creepy in his gleeful sadism, he goes a long way toward making the movie watchable. The problem, though, is that we don't particularly care about any of the riotous goings-on since the film has no particular personality or point of view. Despite making feeble stabs at social commentary -- Sid only kills when the TV cameras are rolling -- the anonymous direction of Brett Leonard ensures that any virtuosity on display here is strictly of the technical variety.
Viewing Virtuosity is as bludgeoning an experience as a death-metal concert: it's got a good beat and you can bang your head to it. The multimillion-dollar arsenal of horror-show hardware guarantees that somebody's gonna get their head kicked in tonight (though not before handing over their eight bucks).
Yet amidst the lumpy tech-talk, VR trickery and all manner of morphing and magic, is a shop-worn, eye-for-an-eye revenge plot: new skin for the old ceremony. As in The Net, it's 19th-century dramatics gussied up in 21st-century hardware.
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