Strange Days is a 1995 American science fiction thriller film directed by Kathryn Bigelow, written by James Cameron and Jay Cocks, and produced by Cameron and Steven-Charles Jaffe. It stars Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis and Tom Sizemore.
Blending science fiction with film noir conventions, Strange Days explores themes such as racism, abuse of power, rape and voyeurism. Although the story was conceived by Cameron around 1986, Bigelow found inspiration after incidents such as the Lorena Bobbitt trial and the 1992 Los Angeles riots that followed the Rodney King verdict. The film was shot entirely in the greater Los Angeles area over a period of 77 nights. Some of the film’s scenes, which offer a point-of-view shot (POV), required multi-faceted cameras and considerable technical preparation.
A major box-office bomb, Strange Days almost derailed Bigelow’s career, making little more than a sixth of its $42 million production cost. Upon release, the film polarised film critics; some reviewers praised its gritty atmosphere and the performances by Fiennes and Bassett, while others criticised it for failing to comment on its violence. Nevertheless, the film’s critical standing has improved over the years, with many fans feeling that the film has been overlooked by a casual mass audience and misguided critics. At the 22nd Saturn Awards, Bassett won Best Actress and Bigelow became the first woman to win the Best Director award.
In the last two days of 1999, Los Angeles has become a dangerous war zone. As a group of criminals robs a Chinese restaurant, the event is recorded by a robber wearing a SQUID, an illegal electronic device that records memories and physical sensations directly from the wearer’s cerebral cortex onto a MiniDisc-like device for playback. Lenny Nero, a former LAPD officer turned black marketeer of SQUID recordings, buys the robbery clip from his main supplier, Tick. Elsewhere, a prostitute named Iris, who is a former friend of Lenny’s ex-girlfriend Faith Justin, is being chased by LAPD officers Burton Steckler and Dwayne Engelman. Iris escapes on a subway car, but Engleman pulls off her wig, revealing a SQUID recorder headset.