The Lawnmower Man (1992)

When the true potential of his mind is unleashed, a simple man becomes a force of unrivaled power.

A scientist is working on increasing the intelligence of chimpanzees, using a mixture of drugs and virtual reality technology. This man is Dr. Lawrence Angelo, played by Pierce Brosnan (The Thomas Crown Affair, GoldenEye), a willful and determined scientist who believes he is on the verge of a breakthrough.

Tests seem to show that the chimpanzee subjects are becoming more intelligent; however, this leads to one of the subjects attempting to escape, using the training he has received and grabbing a gun. It is revealed that Dr. Angelo is working for people at Virtual Space Industries, who are trying to turn these chimps into super-soldiers.

Dr. Angelo seems defeated by this setback and considers abandoning his work until he comes across Jobe, played by Jeff Fahey (White Hunter Black Heart, Planet Terror), a man with a learning disability meaning he has the intellect of a child. Jobe’s only friend is a local neighborhood boy who he shares a love of comics with.

The other adults in Jobe’s life are mostly abusive figures who take advantage of Jobe’s limited intelligence. Dr. Angelo steps forward and recruits Jobe for his experiments, hoping a human subject will give him the breakthrough he is seeking. Naively Jobe agrees with the promise of being made more intelligent as Dr. Angelo alters the drugs and removes the aggression factor.

The experiments prove to be more successful than Dr. Angelo could have hoped for and Jobe begins to exhibit signs of becoming far more intelligent, his personal appearance and interests change dramatically. Shadowy forces in the background learn of the success of the human test and secretly reintroduce the aggression factor into the drugs being administered to Jobe.

These cause severe side effects for Jobe as he understands that the people in his life took advantage of him while he was more innocent and begins to exact an act of horrifying revenge on those that wronged him and the people he cares about.

Dr. Angelo must pursue his test subject through virtual reality and into cyberspace before it becomes too late to stop Jobe evolving into more than human.

The opening scenes from the “chimps-eye” view are something that at the time was revolutionary and the direction of Brett Leonard (Virtuosity, Feed) establishes the style and groundbreaking special effects that his work would become known for. The story was originally a warning about the dangers of shared information and the influence of virtual reality on society. Today we are more connected than ever before and viewers will find the story of The Lawnmower Man resonating with today’s modern technological world. The Lawnmower Man provides visceral screenplay with edgy performances from the cast. While some elements might be considered as formulaic they are executed to perfection in the world where the story takes place, providing an engrossing narrative.