eXistenZ (1999)

Play it. Live it. Kill for it.

A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.

Free will is obviously not a big factor in this little world of ours.
Hee, yet another David Cronenberg picture that divides opinions, not just among the casual film watchers, but also his most ardent fans.
Plot is a little nutty in actuality, as it finds Jennifer Jason Leigh as the world's most high profile games designer. While testing her new virtual reality game out with a focus group, an assassination attempt puts her on the run with an ally of sorts, marketing man Ted Pikul (Jude Law). With the prototype of the new game in their possession, the pair must enter the game's realm to unlock the various puzzles and threats that now confounds and stalks them.
With Cronenberg back to writing something solely from his own head, eXistenZ finds the Canadian auteur happy to be back making a truer piece of work for his kinked visions. Unfortunately the advent of such virtual reality fare and various realist themes was well in filmic swing come the time eXistenZ was released, rendering it in some eyes as a band wagon jumper. That's unfair, because it's still a unique film, as Cronenberg blends body horror with visual invention to create a mind warp of gaming possibilities, a thrum thrum of futuristic verve. He gets top performances out of Leigh (great hair as well) and Law, while the narrative is constantly tricky enough to demand the viewer pays attention whilst being prepared to, perhaps, be surprised.
Not prime Cronenberg, but still smart and funky, twisty and nutty, scary and oblique. So very much a Cronenberg original, then. 8/10

Dimension Films, Alliance Atlantis Communications, Natural Nylon Entertainment, Serendipity Point Films, Téléfilm Canada, The Harold Greenberg Fund, The Movie Network, Union Générale Cinématographique, Canadian Television Fund by David Cronenberg.
Stars: Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe.

Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Keywords: video game hacker bodyguard pop star virtual reality dystopia virtual fight near future


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