Happy New Year! Given that I identify myself as a sci-fi fan, it is strange that I haven't done a single sci-fi film yet. So, I'm starting the new year right with a Science Fiction New Years film.
Strange Days (1995) is an underrated science fiction film by Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow.
The film opens on a robbery that ends with the point of view character being shot. Lenny Nero pulls something off his head and yells at his slimy looking fence about not dealing in snuff films. The device is a squid that records people's experiences as 'clips' and plays them back. We learn from the radio that it is 1999 and the new millennium is about to happen. The assassination of rapper and political activist Jericho One has pushed racial tensions to their limit.
This film dives into the racial foment of the Rodney King beatings. It shows haw the world could easily dive into chaos if we let our hatreds drive us. The two main plots involve the cover up of Jericho One's murder and finding a murderer who records his rape-murders. Unfortunately, the film takes nearly an hour to set these up. So, for awhile the film mostly follows Lenny around L.A. This is good for setting up the character, but could definitely have used some editing.
Lenny Nero is an ex-cop who now deals in black market squid recordings. He's having trouble getting over a breakup with his girlfriend. This misguided love drives Lenny into a conspiracy that could cause huge riots and political upheaval.
Faith Justin is Lenny's ex-girlfriend. They've broken up and now she is with Philo. She comes across as a real bitch. We get snippets of her and Lenny together in the past leading you to wonder whose side she's really on.
Lornette "Mace" Mason is Lenny's kick-ass limo driving friend. During her introduction, you wonder how Mace and Lenny could even become friends. The reason is short and sweet and helps drive their relationship during the second half of the film.
Philo Gant is Faith's new boyfriend and a record producer. He is an all around sleaze and a is knee-deep in both plots.
Late Nineties L.A. driven into chaos and despair with a touch of noir. This film shows the worst parts of L.A. including drugs (via squids), gang violence and police brutality. There is a lot of sex and violence in this movie and all of it is disturbingly harsh.. This film is very dark with Lenny's attitude prevents it from being oppressively so.
In the End
The two plots intertwine at a giant New Yera's Eve bash. Steckler and Engelman finally catch up to Lenny and Mace as they head to stop the murder from killing Faith. It provides understandable and human resolutions for a somewhat complicated plot.
The film is a bit cluttered and takes awhile to deliver a story. That being said, the time is spent creating a believable world. Most things in this film come back around and pay off even if it does take awhile for them to do so. There are some moments of unintentional outdated humor, like hearing that gas being over $3 a gallon is a sign of the end of the world. Despite this, I feel it still has plenty of things to say about the present. This film was a huge box office flop on its release, but did recieve mixed to positive reviews. The result is a film full of great ideas and complicated characters that just needed a bit of trimming toward the front to truly realize its potential. This film isn't for everyone, but sci-fi fans should definitely check it out.