Strange Days (1995)

strange days

“Look … everyone needs to take a walk to the dark end of the street sometimes, it’s what we are.”

The Scoop:1995 R, directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis

Tagline: you know you want it

Summary Capsule: December 31, 1999, and one of the most hideous murders has taken place, an event that only a memories-dealer and his limo driver partner can unravel.

Justin’s rating: There’s a yawn factor here… but also a growing grooviness.

Justin’s review: In 1995, James Cameron and a few other writers and directors came together to create what is perhaps the best, and unnoticed, of the Y2K flicks.

It’s New Year’s Eve, 1999, in the city of Los Angeles (why not? Hollywood considers that the planets revolve around this city). The place has gone to pot, is under martial law, and has criminals everywhere. All Lenny Nero (Ralph Finnes) wants to do is scam a little money by selling used memories. He does this through the use of the ultimate virtual reality machine, called SQUIDS. It records other people’s memories, then lets you experience them (we experience them through intriguing first-person shots). This is all the set-up for a descent into murder, mystery, and the end of the world (as most people think it is).

It’s slightly futuristic, but not too much so. I love the look and feel of the movie because it has a pre-Blade Runner atmosphere surrounding everyone. Most of the film takes place during the night, as the film’s primary characters Lenny and Mace (Angela Bassett, who is the Terminator in this movie) strive to stay alive and get to the bottom of a mess that goes way above their heads.

At 2 hours and 20 minutes, it’s a bit long. I don’t really mind, tho, because the pace is necessary in order to set up not only a great mystery plot, but the surrounding story of the turn of the millennium. What hope does humanity hold? As Lenny’s friend Max says, “It’s all been done.” Lenny holds on desperately to the love he lost, which is crumbling away at his present life.

In the end, this film rocks because it is just cool. There’s high tech, a serial killer, a conspiracy, and plenty of eye candy. In much the same way Cameron brought innovation to The Abyss and Aliens, he does with a film that literally brings a world to life in front of your eyes. What will you do at the millennium? Consider the world at a close? Or… at the beginning?

I might actually be faster to pick a fight with the Terminator


  • Juliette Lewis does her own singing
  • Blade Runner reference with the towel
  • Has Michael Wincott ever not played a bad guy?

Groovy Quotes

Lenny: Have you ever been in love with someone who didn’t return that love?
Mace: Yeah, Lenny, I have.
Lenny: It didn’t stop you from loving them, right? Or being able to understand them or forgive them?
Mace: I guess.

Strickland: You’re a disappointment, Nero. But you know what disappoints me more?
Lenny: Your sex life?

Lenny: See … I can get you what you want, I can. I can get you anything, you just have to talk to me, you have to trust me. You can trust me, ’cause I’m your priest, I’m your shrink … I am you main connection to the switchboard of he soul. I’m the magic man … Santa Claus of the subconscious. You say it, you think it, you can have it.

Lenny: Look … everyone needs to take a walk to the dark end of the street sometimes, it’s what we are.

Max: The issue is not whether you are paranoid, look around you Lenny, the issue is whether you are paranoid enough.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • The Lawnmower Man
  • Blade Runner
  • Ghost in the Shell

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