Wednesday, September 8, 2010

P0wned by Lambert: Nirvana (1997)

Another Lambert film, you ask?  Yes, why not?  I mean, the appeal of this movie is simple: Christopher Lambert as a computer hacker.  That right there is a hook!  As one of my friends- and a fellow member- pointed out when I told him about this movie, "I don't think Lambert even knows how to use a computer."  While I have no verification on that fact, it's a pretty easy thing to imagine.  Will this be a a rare case (not that one) of casting being overcome with good writing or will it be like when they cast Harrison Ford as a Internet Technology Expert in Firewall?  Another question to ask yourself is this- 'Just how popular was Frank Miller in France?'  The reason for that question will be clear as this review progresses.  The film involves the real world, the cyber world and just about everything in between.  If nothing else, I can't see how this film can end up being dull!  Get out your face-covering, cyber-helmets for my review of...
The film opens with a man walking into a room and running into a woman.  He explains that he has a feeling of deja vu.  Unfortunately, he doesn't get to say '...all over again' since a man in a mohawk shows up and shoots him.  The scene resets and he realizes that he's been in the room before.  This time, however, he pulls his gun out and kills the man before he can be taken out.  After this, we meet our hero (Lambert) and learn that he creates complicated computer programs for a nameless, faceless company.  Aren't they all?  Unfortunately, he's discovered that there is an abberation in his programming.  The 'man' from before is actually part of a program that has become self-aware and doesn't want to live in a cycle of death and rebirth.  Why?  Sounds fun to me.  Lambert goes 'off the grid' to help the program, joining forces with a hacker that has robot eyes.  Oh, the Six-Million Dollar Man finally got his degree!  Comedy ensues as Lambert guides the program through the virtual world.  At one point, he tells him that the assassin will be a garishly-dressed man, prompting the program to shoot 'a man' in a leopard-skin jacket.  As it turns out, he was actually a tourist.  Confusion ensues as we see the woman from the beginning in both the real world and the virtual one.  You aren't going all 'David Lynch' on me, are you?
Okay, I'll be honest with you- I stopped following this movie about forty-five minutes in.  I wasn't asleep or anything- it just became confusing as hell!  The narrative would split between Lambert running around strange environments, the 'program' running through *different* strange environments and, on occasion, Lambert in a strange environment talking to the 'program' in a strange environment.  Near the end, Lambert logs into the computer world- you're not helping!  In lieu of trying to explain the intricacy of the technological lingo used here, enjoy this series of screenshots using a style this film blatantly stole from the comic book 'Sin City...'
This movie is a confusing pile of confusion!  The plot is so un-focused and scattershot that it makes it hard to follow.  We can't just follow one guy- we have to follow two of them.  On top of that, they are constantly moving from place to place; different places at that!  This is not aided by the weird use of chroma key effects in the virtual world.  Yes, because I need you to disorient me more!  The acting is not that bad, although some of the supporting actors play their parts a bit too over-the-top for my taste.  It creates a comedic tone at times which just feels odd.  The color distortion and wash-out effects seem really out of place here.  Like in a lot of films, it's just done to make the film look different.  News flash: you've cast Christopher Lambert as a computer hacker- that's different enough!  On the plus side, this movie is not insultingly-bad like Narcosys.  Although that's like saying that A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell was not as bad as Actium Maximus: War of the Alien Dinosaurs though.  Is that really the standard I want to set?  Yes.
Next up, can a tale of human organ harvesting be funny?  One obscure film thinks so.  Stay tuned...

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