IMDb Rating: 7.2/10
R | 2h 25min | Action, Crime | 13 Oct 1995 (USA) | Movie
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 62% Fresh (Critics), 73% Fresh (Audience)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writers: James Cameron, James Cameron, Jay Cocks
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis
Movie Tagline: “An extreme taste of reality”…
IMDb summary: A former cop turned street-hustler accidentally uncovers a conspiracy in Los Angeles in 1999.
Strange Days as a movie is just as relevant now as it was back in the 90s. In fact, it’s probably even more relevant given the recent social upheaval we’ve seen in the United States. And it’s also one of Kathryn Bigelow’s standout films alongside the impeccable writing talent of none other than James Cameron. It would be difficult for this film to be “mediocre” given the talent behind the screen. But the talent in front of the screen is just as star-studded with Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Lewis, and Angela Bassett.
It would probably be easier to talk about what doesn’t work with this film than what does. We’ve got characters to-die-for; characters with real impact on-screen that makes you take notice. Angela Bassett’s hard-hitting security specialist is kick-ass and then some. This is definitely one of my favourite roles of hers. Alongside Ralph Fiennes’ Lenny Nero – the disgraced cop who has become something of a “digital pimp” selling people whatever they want in a “clip” for hard cash. Fiennes is fantastic in this role, as is Juliette Lewis as the believable and edgy superstar-wannabe that Lenny just can’t put behind him. That’s a strange love-triangle right there.
It’s intriguing how these three very different characters remain linked, no matter how many chances they’re given to break the chain. The side-plot that is going on at the same time is also enough to make you want to question whether or not society has improved since they made this film. The year is 1999 on the eve of the Millenium, yet it feels so relevant to today’s social climate. Racism rears its ugly head and creates a conspiracy that is recklessly driven out into the open as two desperate and sadistic cops try to contain it.
If you’re an action fan, you’ll love this film for daring to go into unchartered waters. James Cameron really has a talent for writing this material and it shows. The villain in the film is hard to pin down. There are several “villains”. In the traditional sense, you have a definite antagonist who for most of the film is hiding in the digital shadows. But you also have the two cops who are definitely not the good guys. And then you have the conspiracy itself which connects Faith to Lenny despite Faith’s insistence on Lenny leaving her alone. It’s very edge-of-your-seat equal parts sci-fi, tech, action and drama.
For anyone that hasn’t seen this film (and there are many people out there that have yet to discover this hidden gem), if you enjoy films that are a blend of “cyberpunk” mixed in with action and killer character portrayals, this film is for you. The ratings across the board speak volumes about the film’s appeal. But what is most satisfying is how well this film has aged and how relevant this film is today. It’s a real winner and will always make the “best of” lists for us.