Abel Ferrara's adaptation of William Gibson's cyberpunk story (from the short-story collection Burning Chrome) is quite faithful to the source, which may explain why it bypassed cinemas almost completely to emerge on video... more ». Gibson's story takes place entirely in flashback as its hero shuffles through the events that brought him to the tiny shoebox of a room in the New Rose Hotel, on the run and out of ideas. Ferrara winds up in the same place, but first plays out his story for us to see... sort of. Industrial headhunters Christopher Walken, limping through the movie with a cane and a rumpled white suit like an emaciated Sydney Greenstreet, and Willem Dafoe, his jaded, tired partner, hatch a plan to lure a genetic-sciences genius from one corporation to another for a $100 million payoff. The key to their plan is seductive bar girl and part-time prostitute Asia Argento, a flirting chanteuse with whom Dafoe falls in love. Set in a grimy technological future of generic cosmopolitan cities, the characters wander fluorescent mazes of bland malls, murky bars, and faceless hotels, a Blade Runner future without the spectacle. Apart from brief, blurry video-camera surveillance, the entire operation occurs offscreen, reported through conversations and phone calls, and even Ferrara fans may find the murky, dawdling narrative and cerebral conclusion disappointing. But the tech-noir conspiracy gives way to Ferrara's real story, the collision of the dreamers and the shadowy world they live in. --Sean Axmaker« less
"when I first saw this, I thought it was possibly the worst, sloppiest film ever made, but it stuck in my head until I finally figured out what the story's really about. we've all had moments in life when we've pondered, over & over again, how someone we loved could betray us, and/or what we could've done to have changed the course of our lives. this film & the William Gibson story it's based on are unique in their storytelling & the screenwriter's commentary explains everything sequence by sequence in this at-first baffling movie experience. if you like off-beat/alternative/experimental film, check this out ASAP! I don't think there's ever been anything else like it. & Asia Argento's the stunning icing on the cake!"
We Liked It & Even Watched It Twice!
carol irvin | United States | 05/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Apparently most viewers hate this movie. It is not an easy movie to follow, I grant you. However, I've seen most of Abel Ferrara's films and liked them plus I generally go for anything with Willem Dafoe in it. Walken is a favorite too. Hubby absolutely adored it and would probably go the whole 5 stars if he were writing this, which puts him at variance with almost everyone. I can't go that far but I will go 4 stars. The plot is not that tricky. What is tricky is knowing what moment of time you are in with the characters. At any given moment you can be at the start, middle or end of the story. In this it rather resembles "Memento," which is in the theaters now. Ferrara should have considered changes in lighting or some other visual key to cue the viewers into this time shifts. I've seen this done by shooting part of a film in black and white and the rest in color. I've also seen one time sequence shot in all cool or blue tones while the rest of the movie is shot in reddish hot tones. In short, there are ways to make this easier on the viewer. The plot is that Walken and Dafoe are going to make an Asian scientist fall in love with a call girl they've just met, Sandy. Sandy will bewitch the scientist and he will go wherever she wants him to go. Industrialists will pay Walken and Dafoe big money for the con. They in turn will pay Sandy a million dollars as her share. The question becomes though who is conning whom. While Dafoe is busy falling in love with Sandy, he doesn't follow through on tracing the various leads about her which come into his hands. One irony I couldn't get over was Dafoe being stunned by someone else's beauty, when, in his prime, he had to have been one of the most beautiful people on the planet. Move this back to the 1980s and probably no one would be looking at the call girls in this film! My absolute favorite movie by Ferrara is "Bad Lieutenant" with Harvey Keitel in the starring role. Keitel gives the performance of his life in that film and it is much easier to follow than this one. Before you totally write off this film maker, you might give that one a a try if all the negative reviews on this one are too much for you."
Abe J. Flores | 12/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
Everybody seems to hate this movie in almost all regards. I would say that it isn't spectacular, but I think it deserves better than a lot of these people are giving it. I can respect that they think differently of it.
It's amazing how many people can be wrong. Many complained that they didn't understand what was going on. Sucks for them, I guess they just aren't very bright I know I watched it, and had no trouble seeing what was going on. I read the book afterward, and thought it was quite a well-done adaptation, though I would have thought that they could have come up with a better william gibson story to do a movie of, considering the brevity of this particular one, and the abundance of other stories out there, many of which are considerably longer."
Another love-it or hate-it film.
LRK | Atlanta, GA USA | 04/05/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Notice that almost no one gives this film its average score (around 2.3 stars)? It's a classic bimodal distribution: hate it or love it. Well, maybe "love it" is a bit strong, but for those who 1) don't know the plot ahead of time, and 2) carefully follow the plot as it develops in the film, particularly in the last quarter, the story is quite gripping. If you've read the story ahead of time, or lose the plot while watching, it will just seem like a very low-budget muddle.Like many of Gibson's stories, this is hardly science fiction-- in fact, it's more purely noir than many other more noir-y looking films that come to mind. As such, it's about money, love, betrayal, women, memory, machismo--that sort of stuff. Having read the story after seeing the film, I'd almost say the movie was better, while still being true to Gibson's spirit: less of the narrator's whiny voice, more Fox; more mystery, less pseudo-futuristic-cosmopolitanism. And a much better finish.The best part is really the much-maligned last quarter, which in its memory flashbacks leads you to discover for yourself who betrayed whom and why. The conclusion, if you care about these sorts of issues at all, is really quite sad and moving. Not knowing when it would end, I jumped up close to the TV to hear Argento's reply to Dafoe's last line. To end there shows that these guys knew what they were doing."
Seven nights in this coffin, Sandii
Abe J. Flores | Culver City, CA United States | 12/17/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Make no mistake this is not Johnny Mnemonic or the Matrix in any way. While the story may come from Cyberpunk Guru William Gibson, there is almost no tech to be had in this film.That being said, the film is very true to the source, and it's languid and impressionistic style makes it perhaps the most literary of the works inspired by WG.The movie is slow and a lot of it is tedious, but that may be because the real story here only occurs in the final act, the whole rest of the film being the back-story.Its an interesting approach though not completely satisfying, but in a story about loss, self-doubt and paranoia, nothing really should be."