The Curator of Schlock #395 by Jeff Shuster

Virtuosity

Never mind American Gangster–this is the Denzel Washington versus Russel Crowe movie you’ve been waiting for. 

The Revenging Manta and I had a plan to disrupt a fentanyl delivery at a bowling alley called Tech 13 Lanes in downtown Orlando. I was to pose as the owner of the establishment who my ninja vigilante partner had subdued hours before. All I had to do was hand over a duffle bag filled with cash to some low level goons of the criminal organization known as the Iguana Consortium. I grabbed a slushy while I waited. Tech 13 Lanes were out of cherry. I had to settle for RC Cola flavored. — To be continued.

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This week’s movie is 1995’s Virtuosity from director Brett Leonard.

Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

The movie stars Denzel Washington and I’m trying to remember the last Denzel Washington movie I covered on this blog. Was it Man On Fire? That was the movie where Denzel cut each and every finger off of a cartel member to get him to talk. After he talked, Denzel attached a bomb to his butt and lit the fuse.

Pure cinema. 

I won’t say Virtuosity hits those heights, but it’s still a fun ride. The movie begins with a former police officer, Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington), hunting for a killer along with his partner, John Donovan (Costas Mandylor). And it becomes very obvious that the two of them are in some kind of virtual reality simulator. At first, I thought this was a Matrix ripoff, but then I realized Virtuosity predates The Matrix by four years. 

The killer they are hunting is named SID 6.7 (Russel Crowe), an amalgamation of hundreds of serial killers, terrorists, and other nogoodniks. The program was created to train police officers by having them hunt down the worst killer imaginable. Barnes tracks SID 6.7 down to a virtual sushi restaurant, but the program is one step ahead. SID takes out Donovan and evades Barnes. When Barnes and Donovan are revived, Donovan is flatlining. SID overrode the safety protocols so if you die in the virtual world, you die in the real world. We also learn that Barnes is prisoner, having been incarcerated after hunting down the terrorist that murdered his family and killing him in cold blood.

Dr. Darryl Lindenmeyer (Stephen Spinella) is the creator of SID and wants to take him to the next level. He meets up with Clyde Reilly, a scientist that makes synthetic androids that look and behave just like the real thing. He shows off an artificial snake that can repair itself when hurt by absorbing glass. Dr. Lindenmeyer has a sexy computer program named Sheila 3.2 and he convinces Reilly to turn her into one of his androids. Reilly is a nerdlinger that thinks he’s going to get lucky, but the jokes on him as Lindenmeyer switched out the Sheila program for the SID program. SID now has a physical body to do much mayhem with in the real world.

With SID on loose murdering people left and right, the justice department pardons Barnes on the condition that he take SID down. He teams up with Dr. Madison Carter (Kelly Lynch), a criminal psychologist. She reveals to Barnes that the terrorist that murdered his family is part SID’s deranged personality. So we have the ultimate serial killer in a body that can repair itself with glass. It’s not like there isn’t glass everywhere! Theoretically, SID should be unstoppable, but it’s a Hollywood blockbuster from the 90s. Badassery will triumph over evil. Don’t you worry.

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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477episode 491episode 492, episode 493episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.