Lawnmower Man, The

1992 · New Line Cinema
Lawnmower Man, The — Movie Review by Karthik
7 out of 10
Directing Credits
Brett Leonard
Writing Credits
Screenplay by Brett Leonard & Gimel Everett
Jeff Fahey, Pierce Brosnan, Jenny Wright, Mark Bringleson, Geoffrey Lewis, Jeremy Slate, Austin O'Brien

The Review

Dr. Larry Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) has been conducting experiments at Virtual Space Industries.  The experiments involve the use of special drugs and virtual reality to increase intelligence in apes.  Unfortunately though, the company that is funding his research is only interested in the military applications of the technology, and therefore the chemicals and the simulations are also designed to increase aggressiveness (these are the so-called "Project 5" formulas).  And so Rosco 1138, a chimp, goes berserk and kills some scientists - and VSI staff are forced to kill it.

Dr. Angelo ceases work on the project until they can find what has gone wrong.  But a while later, the hiatus has him feeling frustrated - he decides that the experiments must continue.  So, using the original "Project 5" formulas as a base, he reworks the chemicals and the simulations so that they do not tamper with the aggression factor, and administers the treatments to a simple minded lawnmower man, Jobe (Jeff Fahey).  The treatments show remarkable results.

Soon, VSI comes to know of his experiments and they start tampering with them, introducing the original "Project 5" formulas.  While Dr. Angelo wants to use the technology to better humanity, VSI is interested in using it as a weapon.  As a result of all this, Jobe turns into a kind of superintelligent being - which leads to some extraordinary and sometimes truly frightening consequences.

The Lawnmower Man was "inspired" by a Stephen King short story (apparently the movie distorted the original story so much that King sued the filmmakers, following which his credit was removed).  As one of the early films involving these science-fiction concepts, it's really quite good and I liked the ideas that were presented.  It's only certain things that kept me from enjoying it more than I did: firstly, Pierce Brosnan's character is interesting enough, but at times (especially in his "speeches" about the importance of virtual reality) he seems like the mad scientist type.  There were a couple of characters that seemed outright weird (one of the leading roles, Jenny Wright as Ms. Burke, and the wacko priest).  These are minor things.  But a couple of real plot holes troubled me - VSI is supposed to be such a secret organisation, but yet they seem to freely allow Jobe to come in and go as he pleases, like when he brings in Ms. Burke (this could be explained as one of the side effects of his superintelligence, so correct me if I'm wrong).  Also, if VSI altered Dr. Angelo's chemicals and programs, wouldn't he notice (chemicals I can understand, but programs?  Especially when he actually used his original research as a base for the new simulations, wouldn't he notice the switch they pulled)?

Those things aside, this is an entertaining enough movie with some suspension of disbelief required.  Technically I can't fault this movie - it's very well done with a fast pace and some great computer graphics (the sometimes exaggerated computer-ish graphics are, I think exactly what was intended and they look very good).  The VSI interiors really felt like a futuristic research facility and I liked the photography of the movie too (nice, clear colours).  The movie has a suitable music score and some good enough acting.  The Lawnmower Man is also an intriguing title by itself, and I don't know whether any significance was intended with that.  There are some "religious" references too, possibly to enhance the concept that superintelligence could mean godlike.

I liked this movie, I thought it was a well made action-thriller, with some nice science-fiction ideas adding to the appeal.  Finally, I love the way the movie ended!  Should be of interest to anyone who likes science-fiction movies.

Other Notes

There is a director's cut version of the movie which runs about 148 minutes.  And there's also a sequel, called Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War a.k.a. Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace.

More Details

Running Time: 107 minutes | Country: US | Genre: Science Fiction

Ratings Info

I rate all movies or game add-ons on a scale of 1 to 10 points.  1 is the lowest score, 6 is barely above average, 8 is good, and 10 is excellent (this score doesn't indicate something that is perfect in every way — it just means that I enjoyed it a lot).  You'll find that I tend to give ratings of 8 and above often (that's only because I enjoy whatever I'm reviewing!).  Reviews are updated as felt necessary.  Of course, everything said in these reviews is my humble opinion only.
Review Date 6 Jun 03
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The Author

Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

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