Monday, January 10, 2011


SID 6.7

Before he robbed from the rich to give to the poor, led journalistic crusades, masterminded covert operations, caught the 3:10 to Yuma, sailed to the far side of the world, won the Nobel Prize, took on the Roman Empire, and beat a confession out of famed lowlife, Danny DeVito, he was a stone cold maniac. It doesn’t matter how many awards he wins. It doesn’t matter how many dramatic figures he portrays. It doesn’t matter how many disguises he wears. Russell Crowe will always, and I mean always, be the sadistic, narcissist, glass-eating virtual psychopath, SID 6.7 from Virtuosity (1995).

SID, craving a nice tall glass of glass.
In the film, Crowe plays a virtual reality computer program designed to train police officers against any type of criminal behavior. His entire existence is on a 50 Terabyte module, a cube that stores all of his thoughts, motivations, and characteristics. Composed of a database of two hundred of the Worlds most notorious serial-killer criminal minds, SID is a diabolic, homicidal genius. When SID convinces his creator to place his module in a regenerating android he is able to escape the confines of simulated killing in virtual reality. The android is powered by nano-synthetic organisms, which can regenerate damage by consuming glass, making SID virtually indestructible.

"Hey Parker! This one's for you."
Once he is no longer limited to the limitless confines of virtual reality, SID goes on an unbiased killing spree through the greater Los Angeles area. Fueled by media attention, SID ultimately seizes control of a television studio that he aptly renames “Death TV.” His promise to conduct live executions by viewer request is foiled by his heroic adversary, Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington). Within SID’s many personalities is that of the man who killed Barnes’ wife and daughter, making this grudge match both personal and redemptive.

Today the role of SID 6.7 is a far cry from anything you would associate with Russell Crowe. Even the brutal skinhead, Hando, he played in Romper Stomper (1992) has more dramatic appeal than SID. Released just six months after his America screen debut in Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead (1995), Virtuosity showcased both the diversity and intensity of Crowe as an actor. His performance is comedic and terrifying, charming and lethal, sophisticated and deranged. 

SID back in the box.

It is Crowe’s performance as the vain, ultra-violent SID 6.7 that makes Virtuosity stand out among the crowd. Long before dated, deadbeat, Sci-fi thrillers such as I, Robot (2004), or Surrogates (2009), Virtuosity was keeping cyber-terror real with far out ideas, a simple storyline, and one hell of a villain.

1 comment:

  1. Some actors are taken too seriously and they rarely if ever deliver the goods. But Mr. Crowe never disappoints and Sid is one of his best characters.