eXistenZ (1999) starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe directed by David Cronenberg Movie Review

eXistenZ (1999)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Jude Law in eXistenZ (1999)

If Cronenberg Made Video Games

Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a major name in the world of game design and people are eager to participate in a beta test of her latest game, a virtual reality game know as eXistenZ which you physically plug in to. But not everyone seems to agree with the modification of humans to play games and during the beta test in a church hall a young assassin with a biological gun shoots her. In the melee which follows young businessman Ted Pikul (Jude Law) helps to get her out of their and escape to safety. But something happened to her pod during the game and fearing the game maybe corrupted she needs for Ted to plug in except he hasn't had the operation to fit a pod to his spine and so they find Gas (Willem Dafoe), a back water garage owner who also does pod operations. But it seems Gas can not be trusted and soon Allegra and Pikul are struggling to differentiate between what is real and what is virtual reality.

I'm a straight forwards sort of guy, I know what I like, I like what I know but I am not adverse to shifting outside of my comfort zone when it comes to movies. But being straight forwards means I am not one for grandiloquent reviews full of words such as existentialism, metaphorical or mentions of things such as Burroughsian and Phildickian, sorry couldn't resist dropping grandiloquent reviews in there just to prove how easy it is to use big words which many won't know. And that is the trouble I have had with "eXistenZ" as in search of an idea of what this movie was about I frequently came across reviews which only came across as pretentious due to the language, it put me off as it made "eXistenZ" sound like a movie which only worked on some higher academic level.

Jennifer Jason Leigh in eXistenZ (1999)

So I am going to make things simple; if you enjoyed "Total Recall" with Schwarzenegger then you might enjoy this because the whole point of this movie is to toy with the audience as to whether what is happening on screen is real or not with the line blurred the longer the movie goes on. Simple enough and like with many a movie directed by David Cronenberg "eXistenZ" is layered with sexual reference to lighten the mood in some places whilst also featuring Cronenberg's knack for violence and the visually disturbing. What we also get is a clever use of special effects as he uses the effects as part of the story rather than just to deliver the wow factor which other movies do. Basically "eXistenZ" isn't some movie which works at a high level; it is enjoyable as just a form of entertainment for the masses.

I have but one issue with "eXistenZ" and from a concept point of view it is obvious. I won't say what but within minutes of the movie starting I had already guessed that there would be a twist at the end of the movie and I would have lain money on what that twist was. Now maybe that has come from watching other movies which have done the same thing or maybe it was that within minutes I had put two and two together and realised that it makes five when you start at one rather than zero.

What this all boils down to is that "eXistenZ" hit a lot of right notes and watched as a piece of entertainment it was an enjoyable distraction especially with its clever use of special effects. But unfortunately for me it was all too obvious right from the word go which means when that twist comes it didn't shock me.