Virtuosity Blu-ray Review

Technology based films can be tough to get through when you watch them for the first time twenty years after they first hit theaters. But if you put aside the cheesy tech featured in VIRTUOSITY, you’re still left with a half-hearted thriller with an insane, over the top villain. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re used to getting quality movies from Denzel Washington, you might want to tread lightly as you go back through some of his earlier films.

Denzel plays Barnes, a former detective serving a prison sentence for killing the men that killed his family. Set in a near future (at the time, it looks like the past now), Barnes is asked to test out a virtual reality program used to train young policemen. The program’s villain is SID 6.7, who has started to show signs of artificial intelligence. While Barnes is back in prison, SID hatches a plan to take on a body, which reminded me of how Vision came to be in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. But his transformation isn’t really explained and I imagine the filmmakers sitting around a table trying to think of ways to make SID human and ultimately deciding to gloss over it because there was no logical way to do it. But once he takes on a humanoid form, the city has to turn to Barnes to take him down.

Denzel Washington in Virtuosity

The first thing you’ll notice about VIRTUOSITY is how over the top, crazy Russell Crowe portrays SID. This was two years before LA CONFIDENTIAL and five years before GLADIATOR, marking Crowe’s second US film (QUICK AND THE DEAD being the first). It’s not that he’s necessarily bad in VIRTUOSITY, it’s just that he’s so comically villainous that it’s hard to ever see him as a serious threat, even when he’s running around killing innocent people. I was closer to laughing than being scared and I’m not sure that was the intention of his character. I’m not sure if that was Crowe’s decision or Leonard’s, but it was a strange decision to make that character so out-there crazy. If I were to make a list of comically bad villains, SID would be at the top of the list.

Russell Crowe in Virtuosity

Denzel is always guaranteed to give a good performance and he shows flashes here of what made him so great in all those Tony Scott films, but he alone can’t save the film. The plot is extremely predictable, which is disappointing because the virtual reality world and the future state really opened up the possibilities for director Brett Leonard. But he squandered everything he had created by opting for a paint-by-numbers tale of cop chasing a bad guy.

I didn’t see VIRTUOSITY when it first hit theaters and my first experience with it was watching this Blu-ray release. I don’t know if my opinion would have changed any, but when an already bad movie feels dated, it makes everything that much worse. Fans of Denzel or Crowe might feel compelled to give this one a chance, but I think only their biggest fans will appreciate it.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video: For how old it is, VIRTUOSITY looks decent on Blu-ray.

Audio: The audio was fine.

No extras are included

OVERALL 2
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