[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Strange_Days_5749.gif]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[{{Tagline}} You know you want it]].]]

->''See...I can get you what you want, I can. I can get you anything, you just have to talk to me, you have to trust me. You can trust me, 'cause I'm your priest, I'm your shrink...I am your main connection to the switchboard of the soul. I'm the magic man...the Santa Claus of the subconscious. You say it, you think it, you can have it.''
-->-- '''Lenny'''

->''Memories are meant to fade, Lenny. They're designed that way for a reason.''
-->-- '''Mace'''

''Strange Days'' is a 1995 CyberPunk ScienceFiction movie written by Creator/JamesCameron, directed by Creator/KathrynBigelow and starring Creator/RalphFiennes, Creator/AngelaBassett and Creator/JulietteLewis.

Lenny Nero (Fiennes) is a grungy ex-cop eking out a lonely, miserable existence in the urban nightmare that is 1999 Los Angeles by dealing in dreams. He sells illegal "SQUID" recordings that allow the user to directly experience moments from people's lives as if they were actually there, living every sight, sound, thought and feeling that the person doing the recording experiences. This allows the user to experience anything - sex, drugs, and even death. Although charming and suave on the surface, Lenny is [[StepfordSmiler deeply unhappy and pathetic]], addicted to his own product and desperately reliving the happy moments from his long-dead relationship with his ex-girlfriend Faith (Lewis), a rising punk musician whom he saved from the gutter only for her to discard him when she began to make it big. The only two of his few remaining friends who don't regard him as a washed-up loser are Mace (Bassett), a bodyguard and chauffeur, and Max, a PI with ambiguous morality.

Lenny's life, such as it is, begins to ''completely'' fall apart a few days before the millennium celebrations, when he anonymously receives a snuff recording that depicts the agonizing rape-murder of a prostitute he is acquainted with, whom he encountered hours before her death. Because she attempted to warn him of something concerning Faith, Lenny begins to suspect that Faith is the next target...

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!!This film provides examples of:

* ActionGirl: Mace. It pretty much takes an entire police [=SWAT=] team to kick her ass. Also an ActionMom.
* AllThereInTheManual: Creator/JamesCameron's "scriptment" (he started out to write a treatment, but it evolved into a script as he went along) was later published separately, and fills in a lot of background detail.
* AlternateHistory: Didn't start out as one, but HistoryMarchesOn.
* AndIMustScream: A SQUID deck fitted with a special amplifier can virtually lobotomize people. Since the victims are left technically alive, such incidents aren't treated as homicides, even if foul play is suspected.
* AngryBlackMan: Jeriko One, an outspoken gangster rapper and social activist.
* AsYouKnow: A radio talk show caller explains how the country has really gone down the toilet in the last few years.
* AwLookTheyReallyDoLoveEachOther: [[spoiler: Lenny and Mace]].
* AxCrazy: Officer Steckler is clearly not a very well adjusted individual. [[spoiler: Neither is Max, it turns out]]. Lampshaded when Lenny, during his profile of the killer, points out that by his actions in raping and murdering a woman and forcing her to experience what he's experiencing as he does so, the killer is clearly insane, but staged the crime to look like a random thrill-seeking sex crime because he thinks that he ''isn't''.
* {{Badass}}: Mace, in spades. In his own way, also Lenny, of the [[HeartbrokenBadass heartbroken]] variety.
* BadassInANiceSuit: Mace in her chauffeur/bodyguard outfit.
* BaldOfEvil: [[spoiler: Max, after it's revealed he's a psychotic rapist who wears a wig fitted with a SQUID recorder]].
* BettyAndVeronica: Played with: Mace, the ass-kicking ActionGirl, is the Betty; Faith, the flaky, emotionally unstable backstabber, is the Veronica. [[spoiler: Mace wins, partly because Faith slept with Lenny's best friend and conspired with him to frame him for murder, and partly because she's, well, awesome]].
* BigBadEnsemble: Steckler and Engelman, [[spoiler: Philo Gant]], and [[spoiler: Max]].
* BrokenBird: Faith, when Nero first met her. She was a literal crack whore.
* BullyingADragon: [[spoiler: Jeriko One ''really'' should have kept his mouth shut after the cops pulled him over. Granted, Steckler probably still would have shot him anyway]].
* ByronicHero: Lenny may well be the epitome of this trope.
* CassetteFuturism: The film took place in a dystopian society that was only a few years away from the time of filming. The future aesthetic is mostly conveyed with loud, shiny clothing and punk stylings amongst the hip and degenerate crowd. Information is distributed by hand on discs, without any mention of the internet.
* CombatPragmatist:
** Lenny doesn't fight fair.
** [[NeverBringAKnifeToAGunfight Pull a knife on Mace, she'll pull a gun]]. [[NotWithTheSafetyOnYouWont Pull a gun on Mace, she'll trick you into thinking the safety's on, then disarm you and pummel you with it]].
* ConcertClimax: Everything comes to a head during Los Angeles' 1999 New Year's celebration.
* ConcertKiss: [[spoiler: Lenny and Mace, at the stroke of midnight, January 1st 2000]].
* CoolestClubEver: Retinal Fetish. A CyberPunk movie, indeed.
* CrapsackWorld: The 1992 Los Angeles riots set a trend toward increased crime, anger and police brutality, to the point that by 1999 America is practically a warzone.
--> Creator/JamesCameron: [[WordOfGod Things got bad for a while...]] [[FromBadToWorse then they got worse]].
* CyberPunk: The film is a cyberpunk story notable for being set in the very near future, with only minor advances in overall technology.
* DarkActionGirl: One of Gant's three thugs is a muscular woman.
* DeceasedFallGuyGambit: [[spoiler: Attempted by Max]].
* DesignatedGirlFight: Averted. Lenny takes her out instead.
* DisneyVillainDeath: [[spoiler: Max]].
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Lenny comes off as a cross between a drug-dealer and a pimp at the start of the movie. You'd never think that he was an ex-cop (ex-vice, for that matter).
* DeusExMachina: The riot started when Mace gets beaten on by a SWAT team dissipates almost immediately just because the Police Commissioner tells everyone to calm down. To be fair, he ''does'' have a large SWAT team and National Guard unit backing him up when he does this.
* DirtyCop: Steckler and Engelman.[[spoiler: Also, what Max really is]]
* EarnYourHappyEnding: The film does manage to end on a relatively high note, with Lenny getting the right girl, and bad guys caught, and a worse riot averted.
* ElectricInstantGratification: Deconstructed.
-->'''Lenny:''' This is not like "TV-only-better"... this is life.
* EvilVersusEvil: Crooked cops [[spoiler:Steckler and Engelman]] vs. sleazy music producer [[spoiler:Philo Gant]]. They both want [[spoiler:Iris's]] SQUID recording for their own different reasons. And, of course, [[spoiler:Max]] is playing the whole situation to his own advantage.
* FanDisservice: A rape-murder scene featuring nudity is still a rape-murder scene. Lenny's [[VomitDiscretionShot reaction]] pretty much conveys the feelings of the audience.
* {{Fanservice}}:
** Creator/JulietteLewis spends quite a bit of her on-screen time with her panties visible and her top off.
** There's also a scene demonstrating the more pornographic applications of SQUID via a brief [[GirlOnGirlIsHot girl-on-girl scene]] featuring genuine porn star Kylie Ireland.
** Then there's Angela Basset in an ''incredible'' - and incredibly ''short'' - cocktail dress at the end. Also, for those who enjoy women in power suits, she wears one - and well - throughout much of the movie.
** Ralph Fiennes playing the fashion plate Lenny also gives no shortage of fanservice, assuming you like a certain dishevelled grunginess.
* FateWorseThanDeath: Tick, Lenny's recording expert, gets his frontal brain lobes cooked off. Technically alive, but now totally cut off from the outside world.
* FemmeFatale: Faith
* FingerFraming: when he first appears in the film, Max is FingerFraming the approaching Lenny. This turns out to be something of a ChekhovsGun.
* ForcedToWatch: Iris' killer uses a SQUID recorder with a signal splitter to force her to see and experience her own rape and murder from his perspective. It later looks like the same fate befell Faith [[spoiler: until it turns out that was (initially) consensual]]
* FourTemperamentEnsemble: Mace (choleric), Lenny (melancholic), Iris (leukine), and Faith (sanguine).
* FriendsAllAlong: Max's introduction plays out this way. [[spoiler: It doesn't last, though]].
* GambitPileup: At one point, it looks like everyone except Lenny, Mace and Max are running some kind of complicated scheme, which are all crashing together to cause chaos. [[spoiler: Turns out that most of them aren't, but Max is running his own Evil Plan]].
* GivingThemTheStrip: Lenny cuts his necktie to avoid being pulled off the balcony along with [[spoiler: Max]].
* GuileHero: Lenny.
* HandOfDeath: Seen during the murderer's POV tapes. His identity is spoiled by his sleeves rather early for astute watchers.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: [[spoiler:Lenny manages to kill Max using the switchblade Max sticks in his back]].
* ICantBelieveItsNotHeroin: "Jacking in" is analogous to drug use, and unlike most examples of this trope, it ''is'' illegal.
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: Played with - Mace evidently does not give a toss about Faith and is quick to remind Lenny that it's all over between the two of them, but nevertheless ultimately ends up helping him in his efforts to protect / win her.
* InformedAbility: Jeriko One is supposed to be the best rapper around, but the one song we hear from him doesn't support the notion very well. A different version of the song is on the movie's soundtrack, and is much better than what's heard in the film.
* InsideAComputerSystem: An interesting twist on this trope, the SQUID puts the user in someone else's memories.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Lenny.
* JustBetweenYouAndMe: "Okay, I feel like I gotta share this with someone, because it's just too perfect..."
* KillerCop: Steckler and Engelman.
* LastMinuteHookup: [[spoiler: Lenny and Mace]]
* LetsGetDangerous: Lenny spends most of the movie as an ineffectual, much-disdained ButtMonkey punching bag. Then, towards the end, he seems to remember he used to be a cop and decides to remind everyone else of this:
** Firstly, when approaching one of the {{Mooks}} who'd previously used him as a punching bag, he delivers his usual smarmy "Can't we talk about this like two reasonable human beings?" CatchPhrase -- and [[CombatPragmatist doesn't even give the guy a chance to respond]] before punching him out, handcuffing him and taking his pistol.
** Secondly, when fighting [[spoiler: Max]], he not only holds his own against a complete psychopath, but manages to win out [[spoiler: by ''pulling a knife that had been stabbed into his own back'' out and cutting his tie -- which was the only thing keeping Max from plummeting to his death. Also, we see him worrying before about his tie when he was going to a probable trap. It turns out to save his life]].
** Additionally, in a deleted scene, he is shown as able to manipulate his way into gaining exclusive passes to the giant EndBoss party in under 5 minutes, ''smiling the whole time''.
* LittleBlackDress: After spending the entire movie in suits and high-collared shirts and looking badass, we see Mace in a tiny, strappy black minidress. [[SheCleansUpNicely The effect is remarkable]]. It's even hotter that she comes strapped, too.
* MalcolmXerox: Jeriko One is a combination of Malcolm X and Tupac Shakur.
* ManipulativeBastard: Lenny is a heroic-ish one.
* MeaningfulName: Nero, Mace, Faith, Iris, Jeriko One.
* MurdererPOV: Iris' rape-murder. Subverted and made creepier in that the murderer has the ''victim'' share the POV of ''herself'' getting raped, and the whole other layer of the murderer sending Lenny the tape so ''he'' can share the victim's POV of the murderer's POV of her getting raped.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: A woman called "Mace" is unlikely to be mistaken for a cuddly teddy bear, even before actually seeing her.
* NeverBringAKnifeToAGunFight: While trying to get into a party, Mace beats up on Gant's thugs before finally pulling a gun on the knife-wielding female thug. She shrugs and says, "Enjoy the party!"
* NotOnTheList: When Lenny Nero tries to get into Retinal Fetish.
* NotWithTheSafetyOnYouWont: Mace pulls this on Philo's lead goon, Joey Corto. It distracts him long enough to get punched.
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: Lenny spends most of the film wearing loud, obnoxious suits. For the climax, he changes to a relatively conservative black pinstripe suit with grey tie to fit in.
* TheOner: All of the SQUID recordings are portrayed as one long unbroken shot from a POV cam.
* OohMeAccentsSlipping: an in-universe example, when Philo slips from a generic Transatlantic accent into a more Cockney one while raging at Lenny. (Michael Wincott, the actor playing Philo, is actually Canadian.)
* PetTheDog:
** Lenny isn't a ''bad'' guy, but he is presented as a pretty scummy, sleazy loser for a good part of the movie, until we finally learn why Mace is so devoted to him against all odds. [[spoiler:He was the cop who comforted and took care of her son after his father murdered a man while he was in the house, apparently even going so far as to shelter him in another room so he wouldn't see his father being dragged off in handcuffs. Considering that Lenny is a white cop, Mace and her family are working-class blacks and racial tensions and police mistrust are that high in LA...Yeah, it's a big deal]].
** Lenny's gift for his amputee techie friend (a SQUID recording of running along a beach) also counts, though it also goes toward showing how people can develop an unhealthy fixation on [=SQUIDing=] what they can never have.
* POVCam: All of the SQUID scenes As noted in the film commentary, ''Strange Days'' pioneered new, up-close POVCam techniques for using headcams.
* ProperlyParanoid: Max, when revealing the existence of the LAPD death squad: "It's not a question of being paranoid, it's whether you're paranoid ''enough''." [[spoiler: Subverted: Max turns out to have [[XanatosSpeedChess made the whole thing up on the spot]] to cover up his own part in the GambitPileup that seems to be crashing all around them]].
--> '''Philo''': Paranoia's just reality on a finer scale.
* PunchClockVillain: Philo's bodyguard Wade. He's genuinely flattered when Lenny pretends to recognize him as a former pro football player. Still beats the stuffing out of him, though.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Strickland. According to Lenny, even though he is borderline LawfulStupid, he will do what's right. [[spoiler: He does]], despite Mace's doubts.
* RedHerring: [[spoiler: Max goes on about underground police death squads and GovernmentConspiracy, but really, it's all just a simple murder by two crooked, racist cops and their desperate attempt to cover their own tracks]].
* TheRuleOfFirstAdopters: Guess what civilians do with the SQUID technology once it gets out?
* RuleOfThree: There are three wigs with SQUID recorders hidden underneath them; one worn by Iris - [[spoiler: which is how she recorded Jeriko One's execution]] - one worn by the actor Lenny pays to appear in one of the videos, [[spoiler: and the third by Max, which is how he's able to record the murders he commits]]. The first two are {{Foreshadowing}} for the last one.
** Also, the running gag of Lenny trying to bribe people with his Rolex.
* RunningGag: Lenny trying to buy his way out of trouble with his (fake) Rolex. It never works.
* {{Sampling}}: Mace's quote, "Right here, right now!" would later be sampled in {{Fatboy Slim}}'s song also called "Right Here, Right Now."
* SexByProxy: The SQUID allows you to share the recorded experience of another person, leading to the obvious conclusion that it can be used to record sex. Lenny deals in a lot of smut as well as some other related merchandise, such as a teenage girl taking a shower.
* ShesGotLegs: Mace in her LittleBlackDress. The camera lingers for a bit.
* ShoutOut: Nero quips, "[[RockyAndBullwinkle Fan mail from some flounder?]]"
* TheSnarkKnight: Lenny.
* SnuffFilm: "Blackjack" vids, in which the user jacked in actually experiences the SQUID wearer's death. The fairly amoral Lenny has a marked distaste for them and refuses to deal in them. The movie opens with him being annoyed at Tick for bringing him a tape of a robbery that ended with the robber's death, because he's going to have to edit the last bit out.
* SpiritualSuccessor: To ''{{Brainstorm}}''.
* StrawNihilist: Max is constantly coming out with rather pessimistic, Nietzche-esque pre-millennial statements. [[spoiler: [[{{Foreshadowing}} It's a pretty big clue]] [[FaceHeelTurn pointing towards his true nature]]]].
* TalentDouble: Averted; Creator/JulietteLewis does the vocals for each of her songs in the film (all of which are originally by PJHarvey).
* TanksForTheMemories
* TitleDrop: One of the songs in the club scene is a cover of TheDoors song "Strange Days."
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture: More like five minutes into the future. The film takes place less than five years after its release date, yet the world (or at least Los Angeles) has become a surprisingly futuristic and dystopic place, with [[CrapsackWorld burning cars on every corner, assault rifle-toting convenience store owners, and constant patrols of riot police and National Guard troops in armored vehicles]].
* VasquezAlwaysDies: Averted; [[spoiler:both Mace and Faith survive. Mace even gets the guy]].
* VillainousBreakdown: [[spoiler: After being exposed as Jeriko One's murderer, being arrested and seeing his partner blow his own brains out rather than face a prison sentence while they were handcuffed together, Officer Steckler is '' not'' happy with Mace]].
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Lenny assures Mace that getting into an exclusive New Year's party is "what he does." The next scene, they're already in the party. The scene where we find out ''how'' they got inside was left on the cutting room floor, and later included on the DVD.
* WomanInBlack: Mace is a black woman who wears black while on the job.
* WomanInWhite: Gant's DarkActionGirl has bleached white hair, pale skin, and a pale wardrobe.
* WorldHalfEmpty: Summed up by the radio talk show at the beginning of the film, describing how everything had gone to hell in the last few years.
* XanatosSpeedChess: [[spoiler: Max's story about the LAPD death squad turns out to be one of these]].
* {{Zeerust}}: Leaving aside the fact that SQUID hasn't made an appearance yet, some of the film's fashions look pretty absurd, and there's also a moment with a voice-''transcribing'' answer machine that raises an eyebrow these days. Also, the kind of outspoken gangster rap that the film portrays as part of a major social movement had gone out of style by 2000. Nor was Los Angeles quite the borderline-anarchic urban warzone the movie depicts it as either.
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