If you were around during the 90's, you’ve probably seen this techno/virtual reality movie from 1995 in the Netflix instant streaming queue on the Xbox 360, PS3, or Wii. It’s your typical future-esque internet movie with all the right actors. Denzel Washington, Russelle Crowe, and the gorgeous Kelly Lynch are all featured. So what could go wrong with it? Well, the movie is flat-out campy, retarded, and completely over-the-top. It's not Sandra Bullock's The Net bad, but it’s still a fun movie for a late Friday night, even 15 years later.
If you haven’t seen the movie Virtuosity, please do yourself a favor (and mine), and go watch this bad boy right now. I even like to invite some friends over and break out the old Virtuosity drinking game. Every time they say “SID or SID 6.7″ or Denzel's character name “Parker” or “Barnes”, take a drink. You’ll be drunk by the 10 minute mark. I swear they use these words to just fill space. Yes, we've been watching the movie for an hour now, yes, we know that Denzel's character is "Parker". This makes it simply one of my favorite movies.
But as I sat there looking through IMDb on the movie, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities the movie has to a video game (even along the same lines as the Scott Pilgrim movie). It's not as “bang you over the head” with the video game references as Scott Pilgrim, but they're there just the same. Here are just a few of them:
1. Pulse pounding end-level boss music
Every action sequence has got this really cheesy (yet somehow awesome) Lords of Acid techno/rock remix to get the blood pumping. It’s not unlike a similar tactic video games use to invoke excitement and tension (excluding Final Fantasy which uses the sweeping orchestral numbers). Now, this might not be a great reason to put it on this list because a lot of films have this type of music, but the fact that the music is down-right annoying and dated puts it on the list. Most boss music is celebrated in the game industry, and there are hundreds of dudes on Youtube playing it on the guitar.
I know you have sat there late into the night playing a game and trying to beat an end-level boss, only to die and start over. Don’t you hate having to listen to the pulse pounding music over and over again as you die, die, and die again? Yeah. I would hate to listen to this shit everytime my game save loaded up. Just listen for 2 minutes and then do it over again, you’ll get the idea.
2. Overly used voice lines
Oh man. Like I mentioned with the drinking game, this movie continuously uses lines over and over and over again. Hell, I would bet most of the lines from Russell Crowe are just Sid taunting Barnes, “Come on’ Parker!”
The lines from Virtuosity are straight from a 1994 video game. Where else can you hear lines like: ”Which God would that be? The one who created you? Or the one who created me? You see, in your world, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, but in my world, the one who gave me life doesn’t have any balls.” Was this the subtitles to a Duke Nukem fight? No. And after that, a boss battle breaks out.
Here’s another gem: “Just because I’m carrying around the joy of killing your family inside me doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.” Just. Wow. Or how about: “Hey buddy! How’s the wife and kid? Still dead, huh?” Yep. These all sound like video game boss taunting, and they are all great memorable quotes from Virtuosity.
3. 1995 crappy CGI graphics and virtual reality
This is what an alien Russell Crowe’s ass would look like (with silicone injections I might add) emerging from an alien cocoon.
Are we going to have virtual reality yet? VR has probably had the biggest delay in getting out to the public sense the recent release of Gran Turismo 5. Are we ever going to see virtual reality in the home? We waited five years for GT5? Virtual reality has been dangled in front of our faces for more than 15 years. Fifteen years people. As in a one and then a five. Throw in the fact that the movie features references to video game graphics of 1995, virtual reality games, computer and Lawnmower Man-type internet scenes (of what the internet looks like), and this movie definitely carries the video game stigma with it. It's cool to see what we thought was interactive back in that day and age (i.e. huge chairs with screens over our head as we dangle our arms and legs like we are running), but looking back now it's just retarded.
4. Russell Crowe walking to the Beegees in a purple suit
5. Death TV
Virtuosity also tackled a pretty big video game issue at the time: violence. Russell Crowe’s character Sid hijacks a TV studio to start up his own creation called Death TV: a show dedicated to showing headshots, killing, and torture to innocent bystanders. This could also just be called the Call of Duty channel.
Computer and video game violence was in it’s infancy, but it showcases the public’s fascination (or men aged 16 to 28) with blood and gore. That in order to get ratings and sell something, you have to go over the edge from time to time to drive your point home and get eyes on it. People will eat that shit up. How many times have you gone over to shock websites like Rotten or Break.com to see people in pain? It’s really not unlike the recent Medal of Honor fiasco we had with soldiers and the game getting banned on US Military bases because of the word Taliban and being able to kill American soldiers in the game. This is also true for basically every time a GTA game comes out. People blame the violence on the video game because kids want more of it, so they then supposedly act out and do it for real.
6. The story is basically right out of the video game "Dead To Rights"
Yep, that outfit is straight out of the video game featuring Jack Slate and his trusty wolf companion Shadow. Only question is: where is Shadow? Oh that’s right, Sid probably cooked him up in the sushi place in the beginning of the movie.
The similarities are downright scary. Jack Slate is looking for the killer who killed his father. Parker Barnes is looking for the killer who killed his family. Jack is framed for a murder by a corrupt police officer and sent to prison, only to fight and break his way out. Barnes accidentally kills a camera crew while his family is murdered, then sent to prison, and then gets screwed over by the guards and has to fight an inmate in general population.
We could also throw in ties to Demolition Man for the fact that only one person can stop the antagonist (Sid or Simon Phoenix). I know. This one is kind of a stretch as well, but it’s the first thing that popped into my head.
7. SID 6.7 is basically a PS3 firmware update
That’s right. Sid is the equivalent of a PS3 console, and his “master” (i.e. Sony Computer Entertainment) has decided to continue to update his firmware religiously on a regular basis to make him smarter and better at killing people (or they just really like to send out End User License Agreements).
I wonder how long Sid’s damn firmware updates take? Do they kick him on and immediately get asked, “In order to access Sheila 2.3 you will need to update to firmware 6.7. Press OK now to accept the terms and conditions.” Or maybe there is an option to turn him off after it has been downloaded and installed.
Jesus people, this was over 15 years ago. The only thing we had at the time were shit-tons of free America Online CD’s that constantly updated to version 3.0, then 3.1, etc. To see something of that magnitude (version 6.7) was incredible. This movie knew about firmware updates before firmware updates were even invented. Sony probably go the idea from Sid 6.7.
I really hope all of these glorious in-depth reasons (yeah right!) have swayed your thoughts on one of my favorite cult 90′s movie. I hope you go out and watch it (or buy it for $5 bucks at Best Buy).
Please don’t forget about Virtuosity and just watch that other definitive 90′s movie with Keanu Reeves (“I am an FBI AGENT!”) Great acting Keanu. Could've won an Oscar.
This article was from the heart and is all in good fun. Please don’t take anything too seriously people. I simply wrote it out of love for one of my guilty pleasure movies – Virtuosity. So with all of this being said, I’ll leave you now with a quote from the one and only Parker Barnes: "Game Over."