Nirvana Gabriele Salvatores

You could describe this 1997 Italian/French co-production as Blade Runner meets William Gibson, but you could more accurately call it a big rip-off of both. A typically anesthetised Christopher Lambert stars as a computer game designer who's discovered that the lead of his latest opus has developed self-awareness; this means he has to delete the program and end his weary protagonist's "life." But the software company is rather eager to keep such a thing from happening, meaning he has to weave through a near-future underworld in order to elude their private army and get the job done, leading to sex, drugs, violence and pointless digressions about Lambert's lost girlfriend (Emmanuelle Seigner). Unfortunately, the film's dystopic landscape will be familiar to anyone who remembers Ridley Scott's 1982 classic, from its neon-blighted streets to its punk-ish demimonde to its questionable use of non-whiteness as a signifier of decadence. Worse, it comes at the tail end of the cyberpunk craze, meaning it's got tacky VR shenanigans and "punk" attitude guaranteed to give aging Xers painful flashbacks to their old fractal posters. With such a lack of first-generation creativity, it should come as no surprise that it's directed with music video shallowness and designed by dance club creampuffs. The production team is desperate to look cool, but having no ideas of their own they simply look like the posing fools they are. It doesn't help that it's been fatally dubbed in this sadly Miramax-ed incarnation, but I doubt even Harold Pinter dialogue could save such craven sensibilities as these. Those looking for a real exploration of the ethics of gaming should rent Existenz and leave this derivative failure in the dust. (Miramax)