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This article is about the film. For the term as it refers to artistic or musical ability, see virtuoso.
For a person who is virtuous, see virtue.
Virtuosity ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brett Leonard
Produced by Gary Lucchesi
Written by Eric Bernt
Starring Denzel Washington
Russell Crowe
Kelly Lynch
Stephen Spinella
William Forsythe
Louise Fletcher
William Fichtner
Costas Mandylor
Kevin J. O'Connor
Music by Christopher Young
Cinematography Gale Tattersall
Edited by Conrad Buff
Rob Kobrin
B.J. Sears
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • August 4, 1995 (1995-08-04)
Running time
106 minutes
Language English
Budget $30 million
Box office $24,047,675[1]

Virtuosity is a 1995 science fiction action film directed by Brett Leonard, written by Eric Bernt, and produced by Gary Lucchesi. The film stars Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Kelly Lynch, Stephen Spinella, William Forsythe, Louise Fletcher, William Fichtner, Kevin J. O'Connor, and Kaley Cuoco making her feature film debut. Howard W. Koch, Jr. served as executive producer for the film. Virtuosity had an estimated budget of $30 million, but only made $24 million at the domestic box office. It was released in North America on August 4, 1995.


In Los Angeles, Parker Barnes (Washington) and another man, John Donovan (Costas Mandylor) are tracking down a serial killer named SID 6.7 (Crowe) at a restaurant in virtual reality. However, things go completely catastrophic as SID puts Donovan into shock, killing him. The director overseeing the project, Commissioner Elizabeth Deane (Fletcher) and her associate, William Wallace (Fichtner), order the programmer in charge of creating SID, Dr. Darrel Lindenmeyer (Spinella), to shut down the project. It is then revealed that Barnes is a former police officer who was put into prison for killing political terrorist Matthew Grimes (Christopher Murray), who had killed Parker's wife and daughter and innocent bystanders. This caused Barnes to become a convicted killer and to serve 17 years to life.

Later, Barnes meets with criminal psychologist Dr. Madison Carter (Lynch), following a fight that Barnes and another prisoner, Big Red (Gordon Jennison Noice) got into over Donovan's death. Meanwhile, Lindenmeyer tells SID that he is about to be shut down because of the fail safe being messed with, but SID thinks otherwise. Later on, Clyde Reilly (O'Connor) is convinced by Lindenmeyer that a virtual reality prostitute, Shelia 3.2 (Heidi Schanz), another project created by Lindenmeyer, can be brought to life. However, Lindenmeyer replaces the Shelia 3.2 module with the SID 6.7 module. Afterwards, Reilly and Lindenmeyer are surprised and shocked when SID 6.7, now processed into the real world, comes to life and kills Reilly. Once the word about SID being in the real world gets out, Commissioner Deane and Chief William Cochran of the LAPD (Forsythe) give Barnes a deal: If he catches SID and brings him back to virtual reality, he will be set free. Barnes agrees to the deal, and with help from Carter, they discover that Matthew Grimes, the terrorist that killed Barnes's wife and daughter, is a part of SID 6.7. Meanwhile, SID, having killed a group of security guards, heads over to the Media Zone, a local nightclub, where he starts up a massive shootout and takes everybody hostage. Barnes and Carter go to the nightclub to stop him, only for SID to escape in an LAPD squad car, with Barnes and Carter in hot pursuit in their 1995 Chevrolet Blazer. During the chase, SID taunts Barnes over the police radio about being free from prison, and after the chase, SID escapes and disappears, much to Barnes's frustration.

The next day, SID starts up another killing spree, and this time it is at the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium, where he flirts with a beautiful woman (Mara Duronslet), and afterwards uses a line that Grimes used to taunt Barnes with: "Hey Parker! This one's for you!". Barnes soon arrives at the Stadium to capture SID, and immediately catches him on a train, where another hostage is being held by SID. Barnes is once again taunted by SID and kills the hostage in front of a bunch of horrified witnesses. Carter, having caught up with Barnes after the incident, tries to prove Barnes's innocence, but Barnes is about to be sent back to prison while SID is still on the loose. Moments later, Barnes is set free from Prisoner Transport by SID, who once again escapes. Wallace and Deane are about to have Barnes electrocuted, since he almost failed in the mission of trying to catch SID, but Cochran destroys the fail safe transmitter to save Barnes's life after being told by Carter that Barnes did not have anything to do with killing the hostage on the train. Later that day, SID kidnaps Carter's daughter, Karin (Cuoco) and takes over an entire television studio later that night. Barnes and Carter then go to the studio to try and stop SID once and for all, while trying to save Karin. Meanwhile, Lindenmeyer, having come out of hiding, sees what SID is doing and is impressed, but later held hostage by Carter. In a final chase and fight on the roof , Barnes ultimately destroys SID by impaling him on glass and ripping out his module, but in an alternate event, Barnes is thrown from the building by SID. Soon, SID discovers that he is back in virtual reality and goes into a rage. Barnes then convinces Cochran to let him and Carter out of VR, but not before Lindenmeyer kills Cochran brutally. Barnes then starts to go into the same shock that Donovan was in earlier, but Carter kills Lindenmeyer in the process and saves Barnes from the same fate.

By the end, Barnes and Carter return to the same building that SID took over in the real world, and save Karin from a booby trap set up by SID. After Karin is saved, Barnes heads to the rooftop and throws the SID 6.7 module straight down onto the street, with a group of cars crushing it.


Cast (in credits order)


The film received mostly mixed to negative reviews. It has a rotten score of 33% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 reviews, with 32% of the audience indicating they liked it.[2] It also has a score of 39 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 17 reviews.[3]

The film was nominated for Best Picture at the Sitges Film Festival, losing to Citizen X.[4]

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