STRANGE DAYS (director: Kathryn Bigelow; screenwriters: Jay Cocks/James Cameron/Philip Pfeifer/story by James Cameron; cinematographer: Matthew F. Leonetti; editor: Howard Smith; music: Graeme Revell; cast:  Ralph Fiennes (Lenny Nero), Juliette Lewis  (Faith Justin), Angela Bassett (Lornette [ Mace ] Mason), Tom Sizemore (Max Peltier), Michael Wincott (Philo Gant), Vincent D'Onofrio (Burton Steckler), Glenn Plummer (Jeriko One), William Fichtner (Dwayne Engelman), Richard Edson (Tick), Josef Sommer (Comissioner Palmer Strickland), Brigitte Bako (Iris); Runtime: 145; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Steven Charles Jaffe/James Cameron; 20th Century Fox Home Video; 1995)

"Messy, dreary and repulsive slick near future sci-fi/film noir thriller that both dazzles and is bombastic."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Noted woman action director Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker"/"Detroit") directs this messy, dreary and repulsive slick near future sci-fi/film noir thriller that both dazzles and is bombastic. It veers between being a whodunnit and a social justice film on racial tensions. It's based on a scattered and senseless story by James Cameron (Bigelow's former husband) and is co-written by Cameron, Philip Pfeifer and Jay Cocks. It's set in an LA war zone on the New Year's Eve celebration for 2000.

The former cop, the now sleazy Lenny Nero
(Ralph Fiennes), is a black marketeer of illegal virtual reality software, who sells escapist tapes to thrill seekers who pay to  plug into someone else pulling things such as a a robbery, rape or action thing.

Nero's best friend is Max (Tom Sizemore), a colleague in the black market peddling of tapes, who rides his pal for not doing snuff tapes. Nero is comfortable with porn stuff, which earns him sneers from Mace (Angela Bassett). She's the single mom black bodyguard and security driver who secretly loves him.

Lenny's ex-flame is Faith (Juliette Lewis), currently
a famous rock star who now hangs out with a vicious rock promoter named Philo (Michael Wincott) and rejects the whiny advances of Lenny. When Lenny is given a tape that shows two members of the LAPD pulling over and shooting a politically active black rap artist (Glenn Plummer), Philo's client, in cold blood. Lenny learns that they are members of a rogue death squad within the LAPD. However, the existence of the tape now has Lenny targeted by the same killer cops.

The crass film builds to its
explosive New Year's Eve climax riot. How much you like depends on how much of it you can stomach, if you believe it has something to say about how fucked up the world is and if you find the inter-racial romance believable (I didn't). Though flawed it had a few demanding scenes that were provocative and kept me tuned in, but I still found it offensive and with not enough to say to make it a compulsory watch.

REVIEWED ON 1/22/2018       GRADE: C+-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"