Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

High Tech and High Caliber, Virtually Futuristic Thriller Ups Genre Standard

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

High Tech and High Caliber, Virtually Futuristic Thriller Ups Genre Standard

Article excerpt

"VIRTUOSITY" Rating: R, violence. Running time: 1:45.

ALL summer long, Kevin Costner defended the length and expense of his massive "Waterworld" venture by saying he was going to advance the genre of action films - a bold promise he never delivered on.

His final product was actually a step backward, recycling previous films' sets, plot twists, even their villain in the form Dennis Hopper.

He should have taken a few tips from Brett Leonard, who was in Los Angeles making "Virtuosity" and accomplishing something much closer to what Costner was aiming for with less money and fewer headaches and without carting the whole cast and crew to Hawaii.

Leonard's film isn't a giant leap for futuristic thrillers by any measure - it suffers from some of the same old cliches - but it does up the standard a bit by combining high-tech action with high-caliber acting, a seemingly simple combination these films rarely pull off.

Give credit to the visual-effects folks (headed by Jon Townley) who produced the computer graphics. Their screen-size virtual-reality worlds are believable and endlessly interesting to watch.

Give even more credit to actor Denzel Washington. When it comes to the craft, one Denzel is worth four Sylvesters, three Arnolds and at least two Kevins.

"Virtuosity" is set in Los Angeles in 1999, a time when the world is a little colder and a lot more media-conscious. Technology has advanced so that new police officers are trained in virtual environments. Put on the virtual-reality helmet and the recruits face off against model Sid 6.7, a computer-created criminal based on a composite of the most evil killers on record.

As fate would have it, Sid (played by Russell Crowe) finds a way to escape the computer world and enter the real world, where he is an indestructible, regenerating superman who likes to terrorize people on television. …

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