THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Saturday, August 5, 1995 TAG: 9508050017 SECTION: DAILY BREAK PAGE: E5 EDITION: FINAL TYPE: Movie Review SOURCE: BY MAL VINCENT, MOVIE CRITIC LENGTH: Medium: 61 lines
JUST WHEN I had given the ``noisiest movie of the summer'' award to ``Judge Dredd,'' along comes ``Virtuosity,'' winning with a decibel or two to spare. And this one has colored lights, too.
The year is 1999, or some near-future date like that, and cops now use ``virtual reality'' for training. Their make-believe foe is Sid 6.7, a composite of all the criminal masterminds in history. Things get hairy when Sid escapes from virtual reality into the real world, screaming, ``I think I'm going to like it here.''
The only thing to do is to spring ex-cop Denzel Washington from jail and have him stop Sid.
Russell Crowe is outstanding as Sid 6.7. He has a whispery, threatening voice and a flamboyant manner that lets us know he's having fun and not taking the whole thing seriously. That's the only way to take ``Virtuosity,'' if you have to take it at all.
There is shooting, running, and driving, plus electronic music, which all makes sure you don't nod off. You've seen it all before, but they've added music and colored lights. The director is Brett Leonard, who is apparently obsessed with this techno stuff. (He did 20 minutes of computer-wizardry for ``The Lawnmower Man'' and turned it into a surprise hit.) Leonard, notably, turned down a chance to direct ``The Net'' because he thought that script was too tame. He obviously prefers the broader touch.
Someone should have told Washington. He plays the hero in such a stiff, above-it-all manner that you get the idea he can't wait to pick up his paycheck. He looks as if he smells something bad at all times. Maybe it's his script.
The long-legged Kelly Lynch is wasted as the resident psychologist who is supposed to know how to track down a killer.
Crowe steals all there is to steal, and the action scenes are plentiful - even if they don't make a lot of sense. If you liked ``Judge Dredd,'' you'll probably like this one, too.
When all is said and done, this will probably be known one day as an early film of new star Russell Crowe. ILLUSTRATION: PARAMOUNT
Denzel Washington plays the hero in a stiff, above-it-all manner in
Cast: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Kelly Lynch,
Director: Brett Leonard
MPAA rating: R (graphic violence, brief nudity, raw language)
Mal's rating: **
Locations: Chesapeake Square, Greenbrier in Chesapeake, Janaf,
Main Gate in Norfolk, Kemps River Crossing, Lynnhaven, R/C Columbus
in Virginia Beach