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Virtuosity (1995)

After a series of mostly dramatic roles it was a nice change to see a Russell Crowe film that was a little more action packed and fast paced.  Even though Virtuosity is not known as being even a remotely good film it's hard to overlook the performances, which at least in Crowe's case was quite explosive.

Virtuosity stars Denzel Washington as Parker Barnes an ex-cop who has been imprisoned for the murder of Matthew Grimes, the terrorist that murdered his family.  Barnes had been trailing and building a case against him for sometime, but Grimes uses his family to lure him in an attempt to exterminate him.  Only Barnes survives Grimes trap and therefore takes revenge on him for killing his family.  Now Barnes is in prison and he's a lab-rat for a new virtual reality police training program which pits the participants against SID 6.7 (Russell Crowe), a ruthless computer program with the personalty's of 200 psychopaths.

With the assistance of SID's creator, he's able to escape his virtual prison and exist in the real world only to begin his tirade, killing people wherever he'll have the biggest audience, because all SID craves is attention.  This leads the police to turn to Barnes, the only person whose come close to matching SID in the simulations.  If Barnes can find and stop SID then he can regain his freedom.  The twist is one of SID's 200 personalities is Matthew Grimes; now Barnes mission is personal.

Virtuosity is a pretty awful film, there's really no getting around that but it gets points solely on Russell Crowe's performance which is extremely sadistic, creepy and would give Health Ledger's Joker a fight to the death.  In such a poor and campy film I think Crowe's performance gets overlooked as simply over-the-top.  But if you transferred his performance into something like The Dark Knight in a role of the Joker, or personally I think with his look would be well suited for the Riddler, you'd be hearing some high praise from critics because it's legitimately scary a times how well Crowe plays this psychopath.

Denzel doesn't give a bad performance either, although it's nothing above a beyond what we're used to seeing from him.  He's a little corny at the beginning but when his character is finally let out of prison to stop SID, we get the typical Denzel stoic performance.  In the end, Virtuosity is another film only worth checking out for Crowe's performance (or unless you have a taste for bad science fiction thrillers), nothing else stands out and there is absolutely no saving grace for the story.  It's simply a horribly recycled tale of revenge with some virtual reality mixed in for flavor.


Virtuosity Full Movie


  1. This movie was so bad it's epic. It definitely hits the coveted so horrible it's kind of amusing. The sort of film it's fun to laugh at every once in a while. But yeah, definitely awful awful awful.

    I have to be honest when I saw you were going to review this I was so curious how it would play with you, because I found it so incredibly horrible.

  2. While most people do agree it's awful, they seem to like Denzel's and Crowe's performances to some degree. I'm curious what did you think of Crowe's portrayal of SID?

    We can both agree the film / story itself is awful.

  3. It's been a long long time, but this was around the time I was going through my Denzel is amazing phase. I thought both were incredibly cheesy, but in keeping with the film. I remember Russell Crowe's odd smile in the film being incredibly annoying to look at (perhaps intentionally).

  4. I like Denzel, I think he's a great actor, but he wasn't anything too special here. If anything Crowe gives another complete unique performance whether you consider it completely cheesy or not, it's still different from anything else he's done. I get chessy, in a sense he is, it's psychopath cheesy though which is why I think The Riddler when I see this character.

  5. hee! the only reason i originally saw this film back in the late 90's was because peter gabriel wrote the end-credits song, 'party man'. it is indeed a pretty terrible film (and coming from me, that means it has to be pretty bad...), but russell's performance is a lot of fun. he clearly had a good time playing this completely lunatic bad guy, and he had fun with his research, too. he read biographies of dahmer, hitler, warnos, all kinds of different mass-murderers; and then he threw in a bit of his dentist's personality, too. he thought nobody could be completely evil unless they enjoyed doing root canal on a helpless patient.
    he also told a very funny story about his audition for this part. he hadn't met denzel yet, but he had to come into a scene where he's screaming at denzel behind wire mesh (i assume it's the scene in the police ambulance). he apparently leapt onto this mesh and starting yelling, and a bit of his spit flew out of his mouth and landed on denzel's lips. denzel, being a complete professional and knowing this was an important audition for russell, didn't break character but kept on with the scene. but - as soon as it finished, he did a frantic bit of scrubbing at his face and then calmly said, 'i love the taste of warm spit in the morning', paraphrasing deniro in 'apocalypse now'.
    russell and denzel have been friends ever since.

  6. Yeah, this is baaad. But Russell is a lot of fun to watch here, and I know what you mean about that on-your-nerve smile, Univarn, but I think that's intentional.

    Becks, that's an awesome story about the audition. I love stories like that, and kudos for Denzel, love that man!

    Btw, Mr Answer man, I've tagged you on this meme thing that's going around the movie blogs. Looking forward to reading your list!

  7. I posted a comment earlier about the meme thing, I hope you got it.

  8. Yea, I got it. Sorry I'm not checking my comments during the day anymore, found it too distracting so all my comments will be approved and replied to in the evening.

  9. I was a big fan of this one. It was such cheesy fun & you get to see Crowe's hot butt!


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