Strange Days is a film that has been somewhat overlooked and underrated, slipping by the wayside. It only started gaining more attention recently, thanks to its availability on MAX’s streaming service. For a long time, it was one of those films that existed mostly on VHS, and only recently did it see a release in a nice collector’s disc set.
It’s a great addition to your collection, especially since it makes for a great rewatch each New Year’s Eve. The film stands out not only as a superb piece of sci-fi, but also as a truly twisted whodunnit.
It stars Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, and Angela Bassett — a cast that was remarkable back then and has only aged like fine wine over the years. This is especially true for Fiennes, who portrays a character that is both truly lost and desiring something more, all while also playing the role of a drug dealer.
One of the coolest aspects of Strange Days is the futuristic drug known as ‘The Wire.’ This drug sells experiences recorded by one user and then played back to another, allowing them to ‘wire trip.’ Users can experience things like robbing a bank or jumping off a cliff. In more extreme cases, some wire trips feature recordings of people dying or even committing murder. The thrill comes from the adrenaline of the first-hand experience felt by the wire tripper.
Strange Days is a truly great piece of neo-noir magic, featuring a compelling whodunnit narrative that drives the film’s pace. The puzzle of the whodunnit is well put together and still delivers chills to this day.
Moreover, at its core, Strange Days was a prophetic work. It predicted the widespread witnessing of police brutality through technology and foresaw a society, sickened by this brutality, rioting in the streets in response.
Another standout aspect of Strange Days is its setting in the year 1999, a time when everyone was deeply concerned about the impending Y2K problem. There was widespread fear that computers would malfunction catastrophically at the stroke of midnight, transitioning from 1999 to 2000, potentially leading to widespread chaos. This sense of dread is palpable in the film, hanging thick over the city as it braces for the New Year.
Released in 1995, Strange Days gave us plenty to anticipate about the future. Would ‘Wire Tripping’ become the next major drug craze? I appreciate that Strange Days remains forever emblematic of its era, perfectly capturing the essence of the Y2K cusp.
There’s nothing about Strange Days not to like. Additionally, it’s the perfect film to watch annually for New Year’s — a tradition in our house. It certainly holds a special place in the holiday movie lineup.
What are your New Years go-to watches? Let us know in the comments section.