Follow TV Tropes


Film / Strange Days

Go To

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.

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

Strange Days is a 1995 Cyberpunk Science Fiction movie written by James Cameron and Jay Cocks, directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis.

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 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 (Tom Sizemore), a paranoid and cynical 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...

This film provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Mace surmises that the Serial Killer sends Lenny the recordings because the killer sees Lenny as an exemplar of SQUID. She's wrong — Max just wants to mock his employer.
  • Accent Slip-Up: 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.)
  • Action Girl: Mace, who is a bodyguard/limo driver. It pretty much takes an entire police SWAT team to kick her ass. Also an Action Mom.
  • Advertisement:
  • All There in the Manual: James Cameron'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.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: SQUIDs are real devices, used for measuring brain activity.
  • And I Must Scream: 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.
  • Angry Black Man: Jeriko One, an outspoken gangster rapper and social activist.
  • Asshole Victim: Philo is a Smug Snake and seems to have Faith in some sort of blackmail, even if it's just emotional. No, Philo is just an asshole and is completely innocent of any wrongdoing, including Faith who really does love him.
  • As You Know: A radio talk show caller explains how the country has really gone down the toilet in the last few years.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • Lenny and Mace, though for much of the film it's obvious Mace is carrying a torch for him.
    • Philo and Faith. The film makes it seem like Faith is forced to be with Philo, but no, she loves him and his music connections are just a bonus.
  • Ax-Crazy: Officer Steckler is clearly not a very well adjusted individual. 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 in a Nice Suit: Mace in her chauffeur/bodyguard outfit.
  • Bald of Evil: Max, after it's revealed he's a psychotic rapist who wears a wig fitted with a SQUID recorder.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Engleman.
  • Betty and Veronica: Played with: Mace, the ass-kicking Action Girl, is the Betty; Faith, the flaky, emotionally unstable backstabber, is the Veronica. 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.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Steckler and Engelman, Philo Gant, and Max.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Mace's cover is being a limo driver, but in reality she's expected to be her charge's bodyguard.
  • Broken Bird: Faith, when Nero first met her. She was a literal crack whore.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Jeriko One really should have kept his mouth shut after the cops pulled him over. Granted, Steckler probably still would have shot him anyway, but he might have "just" been beaten.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Strickland. See Reasonable Authority Figure below.
  • Byronic Hero: Lenny may well be the epitome of this trope.
  • Cassette Futurism: The film takes 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.
  • The Cast Show Off: Juliette Lewis does the vocals for each of her songs in the film (all of which are originally by PJ Harvey).
  • Central Theme: Letting go of the past. Nero can't, even though everyone, including Faith and especially Mace, tells him it's destroying him.
    Mace: Memories are supposed to fade, Lenny. They're designed like that for a reason.

    Faith: You know one of the ways that movies are still better than playback? 'cause the music comes up, there's credits, and you always know when it's over. It's over!
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Zigzagged. The tv weatherman who's one of Lenny's clients is mentioned by Lenny and Mace early on, but nothing more than that. In a deleted scene, it's revealed that it's the weatherman's stolen invites that Lenny uses to get him and Mace into the big party.
  • Chronic Evidence Retention Syndrome: Max's frame of Lenny would probably have still worked, even after his death - if he hadn't recorded his own confession.
  • Color Blind Confusion: Evidence is discovered that the killer must be colorblind. It never gets to be a useful clue because the colorblind guy kept it a secret, but serves as a Brick Joke in the final confrontation, where the killer tells the protagonist his color blindness is the only way one can stand the latter's taste in clothing.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
  • Concert Climax: Everything comes to a head during Los Angeles' 1999 New Year's celebration.
  • Concert Kiss: Lenny and Mace, at the stroke of midnight, January 1st 2000.
  • Coolest Club Ever: Retinal Fetish. A Cyberpunk movie, indeed.
  • Crapsack World: 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.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Lenny tends to pretend to be cowardly to make his opponent underestimate him. Just ask a bouncer. Lenny used to be a street cop, after all. There's some subtle foreshadowing, as he lets the bouncer hit him anywhere but the face — because he can take a body blow easily.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Iris's is exceptionally cruel. She gets chased, tied to a doorknob, stripped and blindfolded, and then her attacker outfits her with a squid, rapes and strangles her, so that she gets doubly humiliated by being made to feel everything he's feeling.
  • Cyberpunk: The film is a cyberpunk story notable for being set in the very near future, with only minor advances in overall technology.
  • Dark Action Girl: One of Gant's three thugs is a muscular woman.
  • Death by Irony: Max dies when Nero cuts off the tie Max had been mocking earlier, using the same knife Max tried to kill Lenny with moments before to do so.
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Attempted by Max.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Averted. Lenny takes her out instead.
  • Disney Villain Death: Max.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: 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).
  • Deus ex Machina: The riot started when Mace gets beaten on by a SWAT team dissipates almost immediately as the Police Commissioner arrives with an anti-riot brigade. His possible support was, however, set up in a prior scene.
  • Dirty Cop: Steckler and Engelman. Also, what Max really is.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Lampshaded after the murder of Iris.
    Lenny: Cops are lazy, and they know that no one cares about a dead hooker. I mean, they're roadkill, right? They'll make some jokes, they'll eat some donuts...
  • Double-Meaning Title: The film's title seems to be in reference to the SQUID decks and recordable memory. It's actually an ironic reference to Lenny and Mace getting together at the end.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The film does manage to end on a relatively high note, with Lenny getting the right girl, the bad guys getting killed, and a worse riot averted.
  • Electric Instant Gratification: Deconstructed.
    Lenny: This is not like "TV-only-better"... this is life.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Crooked cops Steckler and Engelman vs. sleazy music producer Philo Gant. They both want Iris's SQUID recording for their own different reasons. And, of course, Max is playing the whole situation to his own advantage.
  • Expy: Jeriko One, despite not resembling him, is meant to be one to Tupac Shakur.
  • Failed Future Forecast: When it was written it was set 20 Minutes into the Future so it didn't start as an alternate history, but the turn of the millennium came and went by without the societal upheavals depicted in the film.
  • Fan Disservice: A rape and murder scene featuring nudity is still a rape and murder scene. Lenny's reaction pretty much conveys the feelings of the audiencenote .
  • Fanservice:
    • Juliette Lewis 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 girl-on-girl scene featuring genuine porn stars Kylie Ireland and Dru Berrymore.
    • 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 disheveled grunginess.
  • Fantastic Drug: SQUID recordings are treated as such — dealing them is illegal, and addicts can become solipsistic. It's legal in other parts of the world.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Tick, Lenny's recording expert, gets his frontal brain lobes cooked off. Technically alive, but now totally cut off from the outside world.
    • A similar fate happens to Philo Gant, but Max shoots him in the head later, killing him for real.
  • Femme Fatale: Faith.
  • Finger Framing: When he first appears in the film, Max is Finger Framing the approaching Lenny. This turns out to be something of a Chekhov's Gun.
  • For Want of a Nail: At the start of the film Iris frantically tries to phone Lenny after witnessing the two cops kill Jeriko One. If Lenny had got in just a couple of minutes earlier and been able to answer Iris on the phone, who knows what might have happened?
  • Foreshadowing: Mace notes whoever sent Lenny the rape tape knew who he was and wanted to show off. Max created and sent it.
    • Max mentions suffering a bullet "floating in the back of (his) brain pan," that lead to his retirement from the police. In a later scene, when Tick is analyzing the blackjack clip of Iris' death, he notes that the killer who recorded had "some sort of trauma" to the brain. It's a clue that Max is the killer that viewers can easily miss.
    • Another one that is subtle detail and is missed is this: When Max comments about Lenny's tie when we're first introduced to him, he holds his hands up and frames the tie like a director holding up their hands to frame a shot. In the recording of Iris' death that was sent to Lenny, the killer opens Iris' eyes and then holds their hands up in the same way.
  • Forced to Watch: 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 until it turns out that it was (initially) consensual.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Mace (choleric), Lenny (melancholic), Iris (phlegmatic), and Faith (sanguine).
  • Friends All Along: Max's introduction plays out this way. It doesn't last, though.
  • Gambit Pileup: 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. Turns out that most of them aren't, but Max is running his own Evil Plan.
  • Gender Bender: Wearing a SQUID allows users to enjoy sex as the opposite sex.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Exploited by Lenny, who is seen reviewing a lesbian memory created by two gorgeous girls. He gives tips to the girl in view about how to make the scene more erotic.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Lenny cuts his necktie to avoid being pulled off the balcony along with Max.
  • Government Conspiracy: Subverted. Max claims that there's a government conspiracy being enforced by "death squads," but he just made the whole thing up to throw Lenny off the scent. It's a much smaller and private crime.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Subverted when Lenny greets a Japanese businessman with "Konbanwa" (good evening) instead of the generic - and incorrect - "Konnichiwa" (good day).
  • Grunge: The music played by Faith, who is sort of a pastiche of Courtney Love.
  • Guile Hero: Lenny.
  • Hand of Death: Seen during the murderer's POV tapes. His identity is spoiled by his sleeves rather early for astute watchers.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mace, just for a moment, when despite all their efforts, it appears that the riot to end all riots has started...
  • Hidden Depths: Lenny is introduced as an Anti-Hero, a slimeball, deadbeat pusher in an obnoxious suit, but it's eventually revealed that he's a former police officer with a rather sad past.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Lenny manages to kill Max using the switchblade Max sticks in his back.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Lenny pretends to be a coward and a bad fighter, but a clue he's not is when he tells the larger bouncer not to hit him in the face — he can take a body blow, but doesn't want any physical evidence of being hit. Later, when he needs it, he takes the bouncer out quickly and efficiently.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: "Jacking in" is analogous to drug use, and unlike most examples of this trope, it is illegal.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: 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.
  • Informed Ability: 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.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Despite the killer's horrific crimes, one character suggests that he may have a brain tumor interfering in his SQUID signal, bringing into question whether he's actually in control of his actions at all, as tumors can put pressure on brain structures and disrupt their ability to function. A tumor in the occipital lobe, however, is likely to only disrupt visual processing, as the character described.
  • Inside a Computer System: An interesting twist on this trope, the SQUID puts the user in someone else's memories.
  • Irony: Max hates Nero's ties. His tie returns the favor.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: A mild example, but when Nero pulls out the SQUID, the Japanese businessmen show off their vastly improved Japanese manufactured version of it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lenny, a criminal who used to be a cop and still has a sense of right and wrong.
  • Just Between You and Me: "Okay, I feel like I gotta share this with someone, because it's just too perfect..."
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Lenny, as he still has a sense of right and wrong — he just doesn't care about ultimately irrelevant "crimes" like dealing in SQUID.
  • Killer Cop: Steckler and Engelman executed Jeriko One for giving them lip.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: When Mace tries to slip into Gant's party, his three goons stop her. She pummels two of them, and the third simply says, "Enjoy the party!"
  • Lady in a Power Suit: Mace wears a severe black one in her job as a bodyguard/limo driver.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Lenny and Mace, punctuated by a Big Damn Kiss at the stroke of midnight for 2000.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Lenny spends most of the movie as an ineffectual, much-disdained Butt-Monkey 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 doesn't even give the guy a chance to respond before punching him out, handcuffing him, and taking his pistol.
    • Secondly, when fighting Max, he not only holds his own against a complete psychopath, but manages to win out 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 Final Boss party in under 5 minutes, smiling the whole time.
  • Little Black Dress: After spending the entire movie in suits and high-collared shirts and looking badass, we see Mace in a tiny, strappy black minidress. The effect is remarkable. It's even hotter that she comes strapped, too.
  • Love Triangle: Lenny, Mace and Faith. Also, Lenny, Faith and Max.
  • Malcolm Xerox: Jeriko One is a combination of Malcolm X and Tupac Shakur.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Lenny is a heroic-ish one.
  • Meaningful Name: Nero, Mace, Faith, Iris, Jeriko One.
  • Mind Rape: Done to Iris by Max as she is raped (in the standard way) and murdered. He forces her not only to see everything he sees but to feel everything he's feeling, such as the joy he's getting out of raping her and her own fear amplified through his heightened sexual arousal. It's so upsetting that simply playing the recording back causes Lenny to be violently sick all over the pavement.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: Iris' rape and murder. Subverted and made creepier in that the murderer has the victim share the POV of herself getting raped and murdered, 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 this.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: A woman called "Mace" is unlikely to be mistaken for a cuddly teddy bear, even before actually seeing her.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The film was released in 1995 and takes place in 1999.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: 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!"
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jeriko One is basically a hammier Chuck D.
  • Not on the List: When Lenny Nero tries to get into Retinal Fetish.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: Mace pulls this on Philo's lead goon, Joey Corto. It distracts him long enough to get punched.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: 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.
  • The Oner: All of the SQUID recordings are portrayed as one long unbroken shot from a POV cam.
  • One-Eyed Shot: The movie begins with a closeup of Fiennes' eye blinking.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • 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. 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, 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.
  • Police Brutality: Complaints around this have heightened racial tensions in the US during the film, and in particular the plot revolves around an outspoken rapper being killed by two cops, which is inadvertently recorded, with them trying to track down the recording.
  • Police State: America, particularly Los Angeles, has become this by 1999 in the film's timeline, as pointed out by Jeriko One.
  • P.O.V. Cam: All of the SQUID scenes. As noted in the film commentary, Strange Days pioneered new, up-close P.O.V. Cam techniques for using headcams.
  • Profane Last Words: This is lampshaded when the villain points out to Lenny that in fatal air plane crashes the pilot's last words 90% of the time are some variant of "Oh Shit!" just as he's about to shoot Lenny.
  • Properly Paranoid: 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." Subverted: Max turns out to have made the whole thing up on the spot to cover up his own part in the Gambit Pileup that seems to be crashing all around them.
    Philo: Paranoia's just reality on a finer scale.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Wade, a former pro-footballer who has been reduced to bodyguarding Philo. He's genuinely flattered when Lenny pretends to recognize him, but still beats the stuffing out of him.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Strickland. According to Lenny, even though he is borderline Lawful Stupid, he will do what's right. He does, despite Mace's doubts.
  • Red Herring:
    • Max goes on about underground police death squads and Government Conspiracy, but really, it's all just a simple murder by two crooked, racist cops and their desperate attempt to cover their own tracks.
    • Philo is set up as the Big Bad, and is dominating Faith. No, he is honest when he says Faith can leave him anytime she likes, and ends up a victim of the Serial Killer too.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The whole "recording of the LAPD breaking the law" plotline owes more than a little to the Rodney King incident, only in this case, taken Up to Eleven.
  • The Rule of First Adopters: Guess what civilians do with the SQUID technology once it gets out?
  • Rule of Three:
    • There are three wigs with SQUID recorders hidden underneath them; one worn by Iris — which is how she recorded Jeriko One's execution — one worn by the actor Lenny pays to appear in one of the videos, 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.
  • Running Gag: Lenny trying to buy his way out of trouble with his (fake) Rolex. It never works.
  • Sad Clown: Lenny is always ready with a quip and an ingratiating smirk, but he's a deeply depressed sad sack behind closed doors.
  • Sampling: Mace's quote, "Right here, right now!" would later be sampled in Fatboy Slim's song also called "Right Here, Right Now."
  • Sex by Proxy: 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.
  • She's Got Legs: Mace in her Little Black Dress. The camera lingers for a bit.
  • Shout-Out: Nero quips, "Fan mail from some flounder?"
  • Slimeball: Lenny is introduced this way, as an obnoxiously dressed pusher who's always trying to get another hustle going. Over the course of the film, it becomes obvious that there's much more to him than he lets on.
  • The Snark Knight: Lenny.
  • Snuff Film: "Blackjack" vids, in which the user jacked in actually experiences the SQUID wearer's death. 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Brainstorm.
  • Straw Nihilist: Max is constantly coming out with rather pessimistic, Nietzche-esque pre-pesky whipper-snapper statements. It's a pretty big clue pointing towards his true nature.
  • Tanks For The Memories
  • Taking You with Me: Max attempts this on Lenny near the end of their final fight.
  • Titled After the Song: The song coming from Tick's van when Lenny, Mace and Max visit him on New Year's Eve is a cover of The Doors song "Strange Days", from Strange Days.
  • Transferable Memory: The SQUID allows memories to be recorded for others to experience them.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: Mace and Lenny get trapped in her limousine when it's dumped off a pier.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Lenny is a sleazy dealer who spends much of the film with a few days of stubble, greasy hair that looks like it hasn't been washed in days and looking like what little sleep he's had was in his clothes, which it was on at least one occasion. It still doesn't change that he's played by the dashingly handsome and suave Ralph Fiennes.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: The film runs on the Will They or Won't They? between Lenny and Mace.
  • The Unreveal: 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.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: When Mace wears her Little Black Dress, she keeps a gun strapped on her thigh.
  • Villainous Breakdown: 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.
  • Visual Pun: Mace uses mace on a guard dog.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: After viewing the recording of Iris being raped and murdered, Lenny goes tumbling out of the back of Mace's car and vomits messily all over the pavement.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mace does this every ten minutes to Nero. Chiefly because she's in love with him.
  • World Half Empty: 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.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Max's story about the LAPD death squad turns out to be one of these.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
    • Mace thinks this of Nero (especially since he comforted her son after his father had committed a murder back when Nero was a police officer.)
    • Strickland thinks this, too, acting like Nero's disappointed father, which Nero really doesn't appreciate.
  • 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. Averted with Faith's grunge-style rock, as it was still popular on the underground scene she cavorts in for long after 2000, though by 1995 after Kurt Cobain's death, people were tired of the nihilism and grunge stopped being a mainstream force as music really experimented with different styles throughout the late 90's.