PROS:  Great soundtrack.  Angela Basset is awesome.

CONS:  Tom Sizemore creeps me out a little.

THINGS I LIKED:  Nero is a terrific antihero.  I actually gave a shit when Nero and Mace kissed which is saying something.  That it introduced me to the music of Skunk Anansie.

NITPICKS:  Could you support Tom Sizemore if he was hanging off a balcony from your tie?  I couldn’t.

I really liked Strange Days back when it came out, and even though it suffers from marking the year it takes place in (the whole thing builds toward New Years Eve 2000) if you can overlook the fact that the technology the movie is based around didn’t come close to existing by then you’re in for a treat.

The fictional technology I refer to is what the characters in the movie refer to as a ‘squid’, which is this kind of techno-yarmulke that is able to record your memories in real time.  So, for example, say I put on my squid and record myself drinking a nice glass of wholesome milk…I then lend the disk (or sell it) to a buddy, he loads up the disk, puts on his squid device and hits play – bam, it’s like he’s *actually* drinking a nice glass of wholesome milk.  He can feel the glass in his hand, he can taste the milk…in fact, since he is basically feeling what it’s like to be me right at that moment, he can even share in my mild lactose intolerance.

Needless to say, most people don’t use the technology to experience the joys of a nice wholesome glass of milk.  They use it to be an underage girl soaping up in the shower, all kinds of depraved sex with seedy strangers without all the cooties, and even a special form of snuff (termed ‘blackjack’ in the film) where you experience someone’s last moments…like, say, falling several stories from the top of a building and down onto the street.

The main character is Nero, awesomely played by Ralph Fiennes.  He was once a cop, but somewhere along the line his life took a wrong turn.  Now he’s turned into a kind of street hustler selling illicit squid recordings (something he excels at).  He pines for his ex-girlfriend, reliving old memories of better times and never noticing that there is a much better option staring him right in the face in the form of Angela Bassett’s Mace, who obviously digs him.  They became friends back when he was a cop – now he’s a little bit of a crook and she’s a bodyguard for hire.  Both of them are kind of lost souls who get caught up in the story’s conspiracy.

Nero gets pulled in when he ends up in possession of a squid recording with something on it which will cause huge fallout should it ever come to light (just in case you actually haven’t seen it, I won’t say what)…suffice it to say that there’s a riot brewing on the city streets and if the contents of the recording were to get out then things could seriously ignite.  Those implicated on the recording of course want the thing destroyed – they want that bad enough to kill pretty much anyone who might have a copy of it.

This movie has a great cyberpunk vibe…where others failed again and again, this movie succeeded in creating that vibe without being cheesy.  It isn’t the world that existed come the year 2000, but it felt like (and still feels like) a world that could exist in the near future.

The adventure unfolds in a very satisfying way, and the ending was spot on.  Nero is a character who in spite of how pathetic he sometimes was I wanted to see pull himself back up.  Mace’s patience with him is wearing thin by the time we join them, but I totally got why they were friends and why she stuck it out hoping he’d pull out of his dive.

Plus, I totally want a squid (the fictional device, not the cephalopod, although I suppose I wouldn’t say no to one of those either).

BOTTOM LINE:  One of the only, if not the only, non-animated cyberpunk feature that doesn’t suck eggs and not only that, it is completely amazing.

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