What do you get when you cross Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett with Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron? A Blade Runner wanna-be that doesn’t get over the hump but is not even close to the worst thing you can find on Netflix, as long as you can get past how dated the movie feels.
Given that Strange Days was co-written by James Cameron, it’s very odd that the
technology central to the movie feels so old-fashioned. Even if the effects don’t hold up, Cameron’s near-future technology usually does, from Terminator to Aliens to the Abyss. Not here. I shuddered every time a character waved around a mini-CD containing a clip of someone’s memories (literally a first-person-view replay of whatever the person experienced). Because I’m so over CDs; I’m a vinyl guy. That means I shuddered a lot while watching Strange Days, because the plot of the movie revolves around those little plastic relics – they’re everywhere!
While it may be silly to criticize a movie set in the year 2000 for using CDs, that sort of logic is not going to stop me even for a second. Any world that has the technology to record and replay memories in the year 2000 must also have invented storage technology that is far better than CDs, right? Who’s with me?
The acting is dated as well – it’s from the silent era. Watching these characters experience other people’s memories is entertaining for all the wrong reasons. The facial expressions, the moaning, the anguish, it’s all way, way, WAY too much. I didn’t need to see those reactions even once but just like the omnipresent CDs, we get at least one shot of each main character overacting when they plug into a SQUID (which, unfortunately, is what the memory recorder and player is called).
In particular, Ralph Fiennes’ off-the-charts overacting and general greasiness in the film makes it surprising that he ever found work again. I think in order to enjoy Fiennes’ catalog from now on, I will have to pretend that the star of Strange Days was actually Bradley Cooper. Which probably won’t be that hard since they may be the same person.
So if you’re a fan of the English Patient, you should probably skip this one. On the other hand, if you are a more a fan of cheeseball 90s sci-fi than cheeseball 90s romances, then Strange Days will be right up your alley.
Strange Days gets a score of five unrealistic Y2K parties out of ten.