Blu-Ray Review – Virtuosity

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It’s odd to think of a time when Russell Crowe’s involvement in a film wouldn’t warrant a mention on the film’s poster. That was the case in 1995 for Virtuosity, a sci-fi thriller starring Denzel Washington that featured a slightly known Crowe as a cyber villian designed from the personalities of very evil people. Crowe was then trying to go from just being an Australian name of note; if it wasn’t for a handful of the right roles at the right time he probably has the same fate of many actors who can’t transition from their native countries to a more worldwide type of acting fame.

It may have been L.A Confidential and Gladiator that really propelled Crowe up the ladder to the A-list but his cinematic resume before then features him in roles with a lot of people of substance. It says something that the DVD and Blu-ray releases of Virtuosity have been altered dramatically to showcase Crowe in a film that was in actuality a Denzel Washington vehicle.

Simple premise. Washington is Parker Barnes, a former police officer turned prisoner in jail for killing the man who murdered his family. When a wild experiment brings SID (Crowe) from virtual reality killer into the real world he’s given a pardon. It comes with strings, of course, as he has to put SID back into the virtual reality he came from in order to get it. Thus it becomes a manhunt as SID, who’s personality is comprised of all sorts of bad people, is on a wild killing spree in Los Angeles as Barnes is now back on the hunt.

Virtuosity really hasn’t aged well as this is from the era where screenwriters took remarkable liberties with technology to the point where they seem like bad conclusions from people who don’t understand technology on a basic, primal level. You can look at films like this and The Net and see why people are still profoundly scared of the ever increasing power of technology; there are people stupid enough to think that something like a virtual reality personality could come into the real world and be invulnerable.

It’s an interesting look and into an era of film-making, though, where we were trying to guess how feature technology would change our lives. We just wound up being very wrong … to the point where there’s an entire crop of movies, like The Net, that exist as a sort of time capsule about how wrong we were about the world to be. Kind of like a bad World’s Fair exhibit.

Virtuosity is an interesting if ultimately flawed relic from a different time, when we thought technology was going to do things so remarkably different than they wound up.

No extras are included.

Paramount presents Virtuosity. Directed by Gary Lucchesi. Written by Eric Bernt. Starring Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe. Run Time: 106 minutes Rated R. Released on DVD: 7.7.2015

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