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Strange Days (1995)

tomatometer

67

Average Rating: 6/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.

audience

73

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 34,287

My Rating

Movie Info

Set in Los Angeles two days before the end of 1999, Strange Days introduces us to Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes), an ex-cop turned sleazy hustler who hawks the newest underground thrill on the black market: a "squid," a headpiece that allows one to transmit digital recordings of other people's thoughts, feelings, and memories into their brain; as Lenny describes it, "this is real life, pure and uncut, straight from the cerebral cortex." Lenny deals "clips" (the software) as well as "squids" (the

Sep 7, 1999

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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All Critics (47) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (15) | DVD (15)

Director Kathryn Bigelow comes closer than any other filmmaker to turning movies into a virtual reality trip.

January 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Newsweek
Newsweek
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Once the premise has lost its promise, and Fiennes's brave attempts at characterization are sacrificed to pseudo-dazzle, everything appears awfully humdrum and, yes, distinctly dated.

April 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Undeniably thrilling and troubling.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though the creators of Strange Days may well be interested in its dramatic and thematic elements, they do not have the same touch for these moments as they do for camera pyrotechnics.

February 13, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Comment (1)
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bigelow is so enamored of high-tech thrills, and so mesmerized by the violence she seeks to condemn, that her efforts at 11th-hour moralizing seem limp and halfhearted.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's big, explosive entertainment and, although not directed by Cameron, is very much in the vein we've come to expect from him.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: ReelViews
ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[VIDEO ESSAY] "Strange Days" owes a debt to Michael Powell's "Peeping Tom," the film that ruined his storied career.

May 7, 2012 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

[Bigelow] with the help of her talented cast, constantly wrestles against the script, and for a great deal of time, she appears to be winning.

April 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Set in LA at the end of the century, this morality tales showed again the main problem in the director's work: The great divide between simlistic plots and technical sophistication. Even so, it's one of a kind for its use of color, sound and motion

December 2, 2006
EmanuelLevy.Com

Engaging, genuinely thrilling sci-fi. Enough to make you wish Bigelow made a movie a year.

July 1, 2005 | Comment (1)
ViewLondon

A thrilling and thought-provoking sci-fi mystery.

November 18, 2004
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

A premissa é bastante interessante, mas o roteiro se perde em meio a uma infinidade de subtramas dispensáveis.

January 31, 2004
Cinema em Cena

An ambitious, unsettling, and effective work.

January 13, 2004 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

"Strange Days" is an ultimately heartless movie, all sheen and surface. It is an attenuated supermodel of a film, hip and beautiful and startlingly empty.

October 30, 2002 Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Ralph Fiennes is the perfect sleazebag, while Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis provide good support.

August 16, 2001 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

An ambitious but ultimately disappointing attempt to assemble the latest in fringe-culture byproducts ... into a Hollywood package.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner | Comment (1)
San Francisco Examiner

After awhile Strange Days becomes merely a predictable parade of senses-assaulting indignities with a surprisingly conventional, by-the-numbers story.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

It's a wildly messed-up, unwieldy, 145-minute movie designed specifically for those audiences who the filmmakers believe haven't been brutalized or quite desensitized enough.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Sacramento Bee | Comment (1)
Sacramento Bee

The early promise of the film gives way to exploitation; satire mutates into drivel.

January 1, 2000
Jam! Movies

Little more than two-and-a-half hours of enjoyable action, futuristic gadgetry and characters perennially on the brink of being compelling.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Audience Reviews for Strange Days

Strange Days is an intense and thought-provoking cyberpunk sci-fi murder mystery thriller co-written by James Cameron and former film critic Jay Cocks, and directed by Cameron's ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow.

Set in Los Angeles two days before the year 2000, we follow Lenny Nero, an ex-cop turned black marketeer whose product of choice to peddle is a SQUID- a headpiece that allows one to transmit digital recordings of other people's thoughts, feelings, and memories directly into their brain. He sells both the discs, and the equipment. Sex and violence/crime are the primary subjects of request, though Lenny's one rule is that he doesn't deal in "blackjacks" or snuff clips.

When not doing his SQUID dealings, Lenny spends his time pining for Faith- his punk rocker ex-girlfriend who is now involved with a shady record executive named Philo Gant. This subplot then gets connected to the rest of the film when Lenny, after receiving a snuff clip of the rape and murder of a mutual friend of his and Faith's, gets embroiled in the resulting murder mystery, which is in turn connected to the recent death of a rapper/social activist on Gant's label.

This all sounds really convoluted and complex, but it's actually not. It's mostly just really difficult to try to easily explain without giving too much away, which I sort of already did to an extent. But not too much.

Anyways, this is a really intense and thrilling film. The basic ideas of the technology are apparently cribbed from the film Brainstorm which I have yet to see, but want to. I'm not sure how much of an input Cocks had here, but it may not have been much as Cameron also gets a 'story by' credit here. Another fun thing is to try to distinguish Cameron's style from Bigelow's. Sometimes this is really hard, but it adds another level of enjoyment to the proceedings.

The film pulls no punches when it comes to the dark and gritty subject matter and content, but mature and open minded viewers will probably find a lot to enjoy here. It's all done quite well, and comes off as earned as opposed to exploitative (and for the sake of it).

From a technical perspective, this film is a marvel. There SQUID sequences are appropriately done as POV, often times as long takes/tracking shots. The opening scene especially is quite impressive and effective. Cinematographer Matthew F. Leonetti needs a friggin' medal or something.

The performances are also pretty stellar. Ralph Fiennes is tremendous as the sleazy, yet rather empathetic Lenny. As his close friend and bodyguard "Mace" Mason, Angela Bassett is amazing, and this is easily her at her most badass. Her performance is quite strong, and she pulls off the action scenes fairly believably, too. There's also Juliette Lewis as Faith, Michael Wincott as Philo Gant, and Tom Sizemore as an associate of Lenny's. Vincent D'Onofrio and William Fichtner also appear as two unhinged rogue cops. All of these people put in some decent work, and this film is another occasion for Lewis to show off her singing skills.

Which brings me to the music. The score is decent, but the non-score soundtrack is where I was really pleased. There's tons of hip hop and heavy metal, and they perfectly complement the grungy/punk aesthetics of the world building, art direction, and set design.

All in all, this is quite an amazing film. It's more than solid, though I will say that it does run on for perhaps a tad too long, and the basic plot, though decent, is unoriginal. I mean, as I mentioned, it's basically just a really dressed up murder mystery. It's still pretty great though, so I highly recommend it.
September 6, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

I think this really stands out as the greatest example of 90s mindset action/sci-fi. In look and story structure, it has all the elements of the time period crushed together into one extravaganza of gunfire and chaos. It's still funny how believable Ralph Fiennes is as a good guy, you'd just never expect it going in. You've also got Juliette Lewis walking around naked for pretty much the entire running time, so even if you don't like the movie there's a treat for you. One of its other standout contributors is the incredibly under-appreciated villain of the 90s, Michael Wincott. This movie really does have a lot to say about the future of society and pop culture, but it does so in a way that doesn't come off as heavy handed. While it has the shortcomings of being almost too 90s for its own good, the majority of this movie is just amazing. After seeing it a few times, even the not-so-lovable elements seem to disappear.
February 24, 2011
ythelastman89

Super Reviewer

The who-dun-it part is quite predictable, but overall, the movie is fairly watchable.
May 5, 2010
imrealgod

Super Reviewer

    1. Faith Justin: You know one of the ways movies are still better than playback? The music comes up, there's credits, and you always know when it's over... [turns to look at Lenny] IT'S OVER!
    – Submitted by Félix C (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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