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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 $35 million
Box office $24,047,675[1]

Virtuosity is a 1995 American science fiction action film directed by Brett Leonard, and starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Howard W. Koch, Jr. served as an executive producer for the film. Virtuosity had an estimated budget of $30 million, but only made $24 million at the domestic box office. The film was released in the United States on August 4, 1995.


In Los Angeles, Lt. Parker Barnes and John Donovan are tracking down a serial killer named SID 6.7 at a restaurant in virtual reality. SID (short for Sadistic, Intelligent, Dangerous - a VR amalgam of the most violent serial killers throughout history) puts Donovan into shock, killing him. The director overseeing the project, before Commissioner Elizabeth Deane and her associate, William Wallace, order the programmer in charge of creating SID, Dr. Darrel Lindenmeyer, to shut down the project. Barnes is a former police officer imprisoned for killing political terrorist Matthew Grimes, who killed Parker's wife and daughter and innocent bystanders. This caused Barnes to become a convicted killer and serve 17 years to life.

Barnes meets with criminal psychologist Dr. Madison Carter following a fight that Barnes and another prisoner, Big Red, got into over Donovan's death. Lindenmeyer tells SID that he is about to be shut down because of the fail-safe being tampered with. Clyde Reilly is convinced by Lindenmeyer that a virtual reality prostitute, Shelia 3.2, another project created by Lindenmeyer, can be brought to life. Lindenmeyer replaces the Shelia 3.2 module with the SID 6.7 module. SID 6.7, now processed into the real world, kills Reilly. Once word of SID being in the real world gets out, Deane and Los Angeles Police Department Chief William Cochran offer Barnes a deal: if he catches SID and brings him back to virtual reality, he will be released. Barnes agrees, 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's personality profile. After killing a group of security guards, SID heads over to the Media Zone, a local nightclub, where he takes hostages. Barnes and Carter go to the nightclub to stop him, but SID escapes.

The next day, SID begins a killing spree at the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium. Barnes arrives at the Stadium to capture SID, and finds him on a train, where another hostage is being held by SID. However, Barnes seemingly kills the hostage in front of a bunch of horrified witnesses. However, Carter having caught up with Barnes after the incident, tries proving Barnes's innocence, but Barnes is about to be sent back to prison. Barnes is set free from his prisoner transport by SID, who once again escapes. Wallace and Deane are about to have Barnes electrocuted, since he has failed to capture SID, but Cochran destroys the fail-safe transmitter to save Barnes's life after being told by Carter that Barnes didn't kill the hostage on the train.

However, SID kidnaps Carter's daughter Karin and takes over a television studio. Barnes and Carter try to stop SID and save Karin. Lindenmeyer, having come out of hiding, sees what SID is doing and is impressed, but later held hostage by Carter. Barnes ultimately destroys SID, but in an alternate event, before Barnes is thrown from the building by SID. Soon, SID discovers that he is back in virtual reality and goes into a rage. Barnes convinces Cochran to let him and Carter out of VR, but Lindenmeyer kills Cochran. Barnes starts to go into the same shock that Donovan suffered, but Carter kills Lindenmeyer, and saving Barnes.

Barnes and Carter return to the 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 destroys the SID 6.7 module.



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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