When released in October 1995, Kathryn Bigelow’s violent James Cameron-scripted millennial thriller was met with mostly pans from critics and audience indifference. Not surprisingly, as time has caught up with the film’s December 30-31, 1999-January 1, 2000 time frame, the film has grown in esteem with critics and audiences. But it isn’t mere millennium madness that has prompted the warmer reception–the film is and always has been a strong work on its own terms, and its relevance in the real 1999 reveals the film as being eerily prescient. While essentially a murder mystery, with hustler Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) and limo driver Mace (Angela Bassett) trying to find the killer of Lenny’s prostitute friend (Brigitte Bako), Cameron’s script taps into other zeitgeist issues, such as the ongoing tensions along the racial and economic lines, along with that between citizens and the police; and, above all, fear of technology–here embodied by an illegal machine that enables people to record sensory experience directly from the brain and play it back as a “SQUID clip.”
The DVD is little more than a carbon copy of the deluxe laserdisc that was issued a few years ago. In addition to a clean THX-certified transfer of the film and the film’s two theatrical trailers (including that striking, Lenny-addresses-the-camera-directly teaser that made a number of moviegoers scratch their heads), the disc features a couple of interesting bonuses. First are two deleted scenes; while one is a throwaway that lasts all of a minute (if even that long), the other, cut for time reasons, is a gripping scene where Lenny nearly fries his brain trying to identify the killer from the SQUID clip of the murder. The second, more unusual bonus, is a lecture given by Bigelow on the film’s opening P.O.V. sequence. While a scene-specific running commentary would have been preferable, the lecture at least gives some interesting insight into at least part of the film.