Hologram Man Review: Virtual Nonsense
Updated: Apr 17
Dir: Richard Pepin
Release Date: 1995
“Sentenced to holographic stasis for terrorism, Slash Gallagher escapes and wreaks more havoc as a living hologram with superhuman powers. The cop who put him away must track Gallagher down and somehow put an end to his holographic chaos.”
From the people who brought us ‘The Sweeper’, comes this slice of shit with a sci-fi slant. This is the bargain bucket version of ‘Virtuosity’ starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, which I remember to be a pretty good effort. Hologram Man, of course, is ridiculous in every way possible. This time around, it is Richard Pepin who gets the directing duties and he sticks to the same rules of high body count, car chases and blowing everything up without reason or cause.
The credits promise us Tiny ‘Zeus’ Lister Jnr and a double special mention of “With Michael Nouri as ‘Edward Jameson’” and then “And John Amos as ‘Wes Strickland’”. Both of whom you will probably recognise from other stuff even if you don’t know the names.
Joe Lara plays the hero in this one and his flowing hair and everchanging stubble/beard is a sight to behold. He is Decoda, a one named wet behind the ears rookie seemingly on his first day in the big city and thrown straight into the middle of a random shootout which is where the film begins.
The opening line of this film is, “Shit!”, and so is the second line. We meet Big Wes Strickland who is out there with Decoda trading bullets with the renta bad guys for reasons never mentioned. Maybe it’s an every day thing having huge gun fights in the middle of the street in broad daylight as they all just get on with it. We also, due to the plot synopsis, have to assume that it is set in the future though I didn’t see any caption telling us the year. Big Wes gets a bigger gun out as they are heavily outgunned by the hordes of bad guys.
“That’s not a regulation gun, sir”, observes Decoda.
“Neither are these”, Strickland replies and shows him some bullets. In the heat of battle, nobody seems to notice that it doesn’t make sense and Strickland proceeds to now blow things up by shooting his non-regulation weaponry. There’s an armoured car which looks like a home-made Mad Max tribute which also hints at a futuristic setting but Strickland blows that up as well as it flips and explodes.
Of a surviving bad guy, Strickland demands to know the whereabouts of Slash Gallagher (great character name by the way) but the guy ain’t no squealer. Strickland is happy to leave this guy to burn to death but Decoda is not so hardened. The guy eventually tells them of a plan to get the Governor later that day (must be a morning shoot out after all) and Strickland still just walks off and leaves him to die. Decoda picks him up and helps him away just before there is another massive explosion. We get a close up of Strickland who shakes his head and says, “Jesus. Rookies.”
Surprising to see such disapproval of saving a life from a superior officer but I guess he’s seen a lot of things in his time.
No time to dwell on that (only 6 minutes in so far!) as we get a sex scene montage with a busty blonde and a guy with long dark hair. At first, I thought it was Decoda himself getting some instant relief from his busy morning, but it turns out to be Slash Gallagher getting it on with his lady. Slash is played by Evan Lurie who appears in numerous 90's action flicks with Double Impact being his most well-known film where is a henchman (possibly number 2 behind Bolo Yeung) and gets a few lines in the scene at the club. He looks a bit like Sylvester Stallone and talks a bit like him too. I used to see him in these films, liked the look of him but never knew his name until I started writing this review up.
He has long braids in this film and he whips them about the place in the sex scene. Turns out he actually wrote and produced this as well so fair play for writing the scene in at all because it really is gratuitous and the lady in question looks great (Michele Smith). He now owns the Evan Lurie Fine Arts Gallery near Indianapolis which specialises in Contemporary Abstract and Neo-Realism pieces.
There you go. Interesting guy. He is discussed in greater length during our DOUBLE IMPACT PODCAST EPSIODE
Slash has a henchman with an eyepatch, cleverly named ‘One-Eye’, who I also recognised from other things (Nicholas Worth if you are interested) who seems to fancy himself as a bit of a master of disguise. They all set off to get on with their daily evil plan while Decoda and Big Wes Strickland have collected the Governor in case some shit goes down and, man, does some shit go down!! The Governor’s motorcade is slowed up by a hobo crossing the road, Slash has hijacked a bus (passengers are still on it!) and is needlessly smashing into things as he hurtles around the streets while we get numerous shots of his big boot slamming down on the gas pedal.
The hobo turns out to be One-Eye with a cloak over his head (genius) who opens fire while the bus and a truck convene on the motorcade, smashing shit all over the place.
Bad guys are being shot by the dozen, the limo driver is killed, some cops get hit and One-Eye rubs some blood on his face, throws off his cloak and is now dressed as a cop (amazing versatility).
Decoda jumps behind the wheel of the limo and gets the chase back underway. Slash drives the bus under a low bridge, smashes the roof off like the truck in Terminator 2 and accelerates headlong into traffic. Decoda is firing wildly behind him and, in the firefight, hits the beautiful Michele Smith before flipping the limo over like an idiot.
Some stuntmen obviously realise that Slash is gonna be pissed as they dive out of the way very early before he finally smashes the bus through a barricade (we see it twice for their efforts) in slow motion and brings the chase to a halt. Slash kisses the still warm corpse of his girlfriend (beautiful corpse), actually gives us a roar of, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”, and comes out all guns blazing looking like a futuristic Rambo, killing numerous cops before taking the Governor hostage and demanding Decoda and Strickland drop their guns.
“Don’t give it up, kid”, advises big Wes before being instantly shot by Slash.
“You okay?” asks Decoda,
“What?”, is Strickland’s somewhat restrained response.
Bored by this nonsense, Slash shoots the Governor in the head and turns the gun on our heroes. Slash is clearly distraught by the death of the beautiful Michele Smith as he stops making much sense for the next few minutes and his voice sounds even more like Stallone in his big First Blood speech.
“Let’s play a game!......I don’t want to play this game!....You guys play!”, he says in a clearly indecisive moment.
“You’re sick”, challenges Decoda who knows how to hurt a guy’s feelings.
“I may be a little misunderstood, but I AM NOT SICK!”, shouts Slash, apparently really hurt by Decoda’s words.
Without further ado, he shoots Strickland again and, while he finally dies, Slash respectfully stands there, leaving Decoda with his dying Captain.
What a first day!
Still not as bad as Ethan Hawke’s in Training Day in my opinion but it would have to be massively terrible to beat that benchmark.
Reminiscent of the British sitcom, ‘Porridge’, we now get a voice over sentencing him and telling us that Slash is not his real name and he is actually called Norman Gallagher. We get a couple of outrageous aliases as well for him, ‘Leader of the World Revolution’, is one which seems a bit long winded and ‘Vlad the Beast’, and the total irrelevance of that one made me laugh.
This is the next hint that is it all futuristic and seriously researched from a scientific point of view. Slash is sentenced to “Holographic stasis until your bio-crystal rectification programming is complete”, promising his first assessment is in 5 years time. He then vanishes in a terrible graphic and seems to become just a sparkly thing in a tube.
So what happens to his body? Even in Demolition Man they kept the body.
Does he just totally vanish from the physical world or still take up some space, rendering much of this pointless?
For now, we’ll just go with it I guess.
We get to see the sky line, then a terrible CGI dome appears, a spaceship flies in and we just accept it is 5 years again in the future.
Decoda has literally let his hair down as he watches the News on his TV (which looks in no way even modern, let alone futuristic) and we get to see a splendid photo of Wes Strickland on the TV unit, just looking out and smiling like he’s at a picnic or something. It’s not even his funeral photo in uniform or anything.
Seems odd as he died on Decoda’s first day on the job so where the Hell did he get that from?
And why would he have a photo anyway if he only knew him for one day?
Decoda’s girlfriend wakes up and messes with this hair, because it really is lovely, and talks about Slash’s assessment.
Turns out that the girlfriend is the daughter of the Doctor who is responsible for the nonsensical hologram science. We meet a slimy little shit of an assistant (again, you’ll recognise him) who is clearly a bad guy and straight onto a panel of people reviewing holographic prisoners for parole.
Prisoner 66443 is brought out as a hologram and he is a ridiculous character. He immediately declares his remorse, states he won’t do anything wrong again and wants another chance. The chairman of the panel looks very pleased, tells the guy he has been reprogrammed as a street cleaner and when he jumps at the opportunity, he is declared fully rehabilitated and free to go!
It's that easy! What a fool proof system this is! How much reprogramming did he need to be released as a street cleaner?
I hope Slash follows his lead and he also just says sorry.
In fact, I am certain he will. What a happy ending.
Before we get to that, we cut to an old church where One-Eye, that obvious dirty double-crossing scientist and Tiny Lister (with a number 8 drawn on his head), playing a character called ‘8-Ball’, are looking at a computer screen.
To add to the bad guy hideout ambience, there is a guy with a flamethrower just firing randomly upwards at nothing. They are all dicking about with data or some made up science and they get a picture of Slash appear. Scientist and One-Eye don’t really get along but who cares? A plan is afoot.
Decoda is on his way to the evaluation and he is driving a laughable futuristic car like a kid would draw, looking like it is made of fiberglass and sticky tape and he barely fits in it. Officers in need of assistance comes through on the radio and, ever the hero, Decoda responds and heads to another totally pointless and unnecessary shootout. It’s in a textbook ‘Action Movie Warehouse’ where there’s lots of metal railings, a couple of floors, random fires burning and numerous barrels and empty boxes.
“Where’s the back-up?”, Decoda demands, even though he is surely it. Another, proper, cop car of back-up arrives, officers pile out of it and the car is promptly blown up in an outrageously big explosion.
Decoda has had enough and he’s going in amid ridiculous gunfire, loss of lives and general stunt work! Apparently, these bad guys are part of the Iron Crow gang (tell tale tattoos) which means nothing and will not feature again after this scene.
I like the fact that the gang is called something similar to the gang in The Sweeper (Concrete Lions) and I will pay close attention to other gang names in these PM films.
“That isn’t in the manual”, says a uniform as Decoda runs headlong into gunfire.
“What manual?”, asks his Sergeant.
We never find out what manual he means though, if there was a literal police procedural manual, how come the Sarge is apparently unaware of it? How did he get to that rank without the knowledge of it? Is there no standards any more for promotion? I sure don’t know but I would bet that, if this manual does exist, Decoda shooting a female hostage point-blank in the leg would be right up there in the ‘Don’t Do This’ section.
Thankfully, she was also part of the Iron Crow gang so nobody cares about her needless and deliberately inflicted injury.
That marks the end of this scene which serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever and we head back to plot. Such as it is.
The dirty double-crossing scientist is back in position in the lab now and the panel call for prisoner 666959 (literally the number of ‘the Beast’). Slash is reanimated as a terrible hologram and, while the other guy seemed to know what to say, promised he would be good and was far too happy with his newly acquired street sweeping skills, Slash Gallagher is having none of it.
5 years being a sparkly thing in a tube hasn’t softened old Slash and he greets the head of the parole board with this zinger,
“Nice to see such an intellectual sphincter such as yourself can achieve such a prestigious position”.
This guy wrote the script, folks. Don’t forget that here. He gave himself that line, the lunatic. He says ‘such’ 3 times in one sentence!
Well, it turns out that the verdict is one of ‘Radical Failure’ and Slash is to be returned to reprogramming mode immediately. They didn’t count on the evil scientist and his made-up genius bullshit. He unleashes some sub-par Tron style computer effects and re-routes this hologram nonsense or something. Slash is still standing there like a Ready-Brek guy and flashes red lightning when touched and can also fire them from his hands like bullets. Actual bullets also just go through him and he escapes by walking through the wall. Pretty sweet deal I guess.
We cut to City Hall where Decoda, who now has a beard, and his female partner, who doesn’t have a beard, give us a brief rundown and backstory on some characters to help speed things up.
Police Chief, Parole Board Chairman, The Secretary, and the President.
All people of power, all apparently corrupt except maybe the Secretary who they suggest is lucky the others haven’t killed him yet.
Decoda arrives to find them all sitting around a very small table and discussing the number one priority on everyone’s minds...
Just how did such an intellectual sphincter such as this guy achieve such a prestigious position?
No no, of course not.
It’s what to do about Slash Gallagher?!
Decoda is told he must focus solely on this before he wreaks havoc on the city. The President (Michael Nouri) says that civilian casualties are acceptable which prompts Decoda to get a little bit political and questions these methods.
Here is the first time we are given a huge hint that the Corporation are the real bad guys here and maybe Slash is just a rebel, an anarchist, a freedom fighting activist.
Obviously, he has also killed a lot of people and is a terrorist but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
Quick scenes now, Hide-out finds the scientist guy is now a full time bad guy as he has removed his white lab coat and is up to no good rattling off numerous science like words while sitting in front of a large computer. Decoda is about to embark on the shittest training exercise I’ve ever seen in a film. His partner leaves him to his ‘Demolition Man game’ and, while he stands in what looks like an empty swimming pool, fires up a VR headset. We now join a first person POV shooting game but with really bad graphics and lasers.
He asked for 12 assailants and only 12 bullets because he is a goddam hero.
To be honest, I reckon my Mom could have completed this exercise in the same time it takes Decoda. The assailants all turn up one at a time and just wait to be lasered. He takes his VR helmet off and looks pleased with himself.
Back at the hide-out, a pod opens and out steps Slash Gallagher, not as a hologram, but normal looking.
I think he shouts, “I’m alive again!”, but it is difficult to be sure as he goes even more Stallone when he shouts. He may have said, “Happy Holidays!”, or even “I’m a llama, Dave!”, but I went with the most likely.
The evil scientist now takes ages explaining the polymer compound of this synthetic skin like anyone would, at this point of the film, begin to question how realistic it is.
Apparently, the skin can be manipulated, and Slash can look like anyone at all. That is the only bit we needed to know so the rest was just a waste of time and trying to impress the boss.
We now head to another convoy and this time it is Secretary Culkin in a limo and he is looking sweaty and nervous at all times. A helicopter arrives, blows up 3 cop cars before finally exploding as well. Another massive gun fight ensues with many deaths of cops and henchmen alike. 8-Ball is there along with One-Eye and they get the Secretary out of there and back to the lair for an audience with Slash.
The meeting goes surprisingly well, with only one shout of, “Don’t call me Norman!!!” to suggest he was a bad guy at all.
Both want the power given back to the people, tired of being oppressed by the fat cats of the government corporation lining their own pockets while good people are swept away like trash!
Brings a tear to the eye and so relatable, right kids? Well, that Norman indiscretion gets Culkin led away to his cell while Slash is informed that the gang is broke. Only one thing for it. Bank robbery!
Cal Corp Bank to be exact. Government owned. When being told to open the vault by Slash, the bank manager makes a terrible but probably inevitable decision.
“I can’t open the vault”, he says. Now, every Bank Manager says this when confronted by robbers, usually receiving a smack around the head, a gun pointed square at them and a count of 3, sometimes a colleague being taken as a hostage until they do actually just open the vault but Slash is not into that kind of messing about and the manager is shot about 12 times from very close range and, as he falls, hits a table and a plant falls on him. What a terrible decision he made.
The Deputy Manager, sensing a promotion or at least, just not instant death, says that he can open the vault and they all have a little laugh.
The President himself wakes Decoda up with a phone call and tells him to get his ass over to the Bank and get Gallagher and adds that hostages don’t matter just to secure us having no kind of empathy left for the corporation! Slash compounds this by taking to the airwaves and shouting at cameras that he is a wake-up call to the oppressive regime. People aren’t going to take it any longer (Twisted Sister song was sadly not played at this time) and he is going to lead them in revolt against tyranny. Or words to that effect anyway. There’s a big standoff, a cop shoots a witness, all the cops look like military and the bad guys are the only ones who are remotely trying to convince us it’s the future by wearing silly clothes. After many more deaths, Slash blows himself up, they all escape, the hologram waves good bye and the bank raid is over.
Total haul? 100 million dollars!! Not bad.
“Revolution is a much bloodier proposition than I had thought”, says Secretary Culkin, suggesting he had never even looked up any definition of the word, and sulks about so many people being killed.
We cut to the Parole Chairman who is busy crunching numbers with the Treasurer to make even more money for himself and the Corporation when Decoda arrives unexpectedly. After a few choice words, Decoda throws him from a great height and watches as he falls in slow motion onto a small glass table.
Never just land on the floor if you can have some more smashing glass is a rule of these films.
Decoda now pulls off his own face and it is, of course, Wes Strickland!
No, it is Slash Gallagher. Amazing trickery on his part there.
We get more inexplicable explosions now as one building is seemingly blown up by a baseball hitting it. The good guys arrive and exchange fire again. The Treasurer heads towards them in a wheelchair only to be identified as being wired and he explodes immediately and blows up Decoda’s partner as well. More gunfire and they all escape again in a massive truck cab unit while the partner dies and Decoda instantly grows a beard again.
President Michael Nouri gets Decoda in his car and gives him a dressing down. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you lost your balls!”, he says without giving the viewer any clue as to how he does know better.
Decoda, now wearing what appear to be his pyjamas, heads to the Cal Corp prison morgue/lab facility or wherever they keep the bodies of the criminals while they needlessly dick about with holograms. He finds Slash Gallagher and shoots him in the face a few times.
Slash turns up in his truck and he is not very happy at all. For some reason, this place is also a warehouse with numerous boilers, barrels, stairwells and such.
Decoda wants to leave but the Doctor is still locking down the system.
2 bad guys get a touching moment when they save each other. No idea who they are but it’s a lovely look they share.
8-Ball is shooting people for fun (literally) and Slash finds his body with bullet holes in it and lets off a magnificent cry of “DECODAAAAAAAAAA!”, which instantly brought back fond memories of Reb Brown in Strike Commando when he shouts “DAKOTAAAAAAAAAAA!!!” numerous times.
Slash takes Decoda’s girlfriend hostage and shoots her dad. He then beats up Decoda and throws him across the room which thankfully has a tiny table in it so he can smash it to pieces.
He then also shoots him.
Thankfully, Decoda’s girlfriend is able to put him in a similar holographic stasis so, not only is he not really dead, but he also reappears in some horrible white spandex leotard.
Slash blows up the lab in an outrageously huge explosion, breaking the Cal Corp sign and head back to HQ for some champagne, firing of guns and some more celebratory flame throwing in an upwards direction.
The Police Chief gets a video call from Secretary Culkin, only for his voice to change into that of Slash and a hand reach out of the screen to flash some red bolts at his face which apparently kill him.
Decoda now has the same rubber skin as Slash which they discuss again. Decoda is hugely ungrateful and says it would have been better if he had died but they forget about that and have some electrical sex which turns whisks on, fires up the blender and blows up the toaster.
Slash and Culkin are having a chat which clears up who is in charge, “I make the plans, you whimpering little shit!”, Slash reminds us and he shoots Culkin dead and then shoots him some more.
Decoda is summoned by Jameson for some trash talking. Jameson says he should have Decoda executed, that he is the law and can do whatever he wants due to having absolute power. Decoda calls him a fucking maggot which he doesn’t like much and likes it even less when Decoda peels his own face off to reveal that he is a hologram and declares they’ll do it his way. On his way out, he is told by his girlfriend that Slash is stronger than he is as she “didn’t have time to fully ionise his particles before the explosion”.
Well, that’s just bloody typical. This half a job ionising of his particles could come back to bite him in the ass!
Still, never mind.
Jameson is busy looking out of the window when One-Eye turns up, kidnaps him and takes him back to base. It’s only a matter of minutes before an army of cops turn up as well and they have yet another gunfight with massive casualties.
Jameson frees himself, punches One-Eye, picks up the gimpy Double-crosser and electrocutes him to death.
He then peels off his own face to reveal it is Decoda.
The oldest trick in the book.
“You’re not Jameson!”, observes One-Eye.
“Good eye”, quips Decoda and puts him in the skin machine which mangles his face up so it looks like a testicle.
Slash arrives and we have a showdown started by Decoda calling Slash, ‘Norman’, which we know he doesn’t like much. A mega backhand propels Decoda across the room and through yet another tiny table and a schoolyard exchange of, “Don’t you ever call me Norman”, “That’s your name, Norman” with a retaliatory backhand which propels Slash into some glass tubes. Flamethrower guy arrives and sets Decoda alight while he just stands still before walking out from the flames in his little white spandex outfit again and firing a bolt which sets fire to flamethrower guy.
Slash peels of his own skin now so they can have a hologram fight which looks like a shit version of the Mortal Kombat game.
Tiny Lister is shot right in the number 8 and dies.
Decoda somehow traps Slash back into the little glass tube which he is not a fan of,
Decoda has one more Norman put down for him and blows the tube up with his lightning/electrical hands.
Jameson arrives in his limo, declares he will maintain the Martial Law he has imposed ensuring he retains his absolute power and he wants Decoda to be his right hand which makes Decoda say he’s the same as Slash.
“Just be a good cop and remember your doody belongs to me”.
“My doody is to end this shit here and now.”
He then places his hand through the window of the car (not smashed) and somehow blows the entire car up putting an end to Jameson’s evil plans, his life and the film.
“Oh my God, Decoda”, his girlfriend turns up, “What are we gonna do now?”
All in all, a totally ridiculous film with an amazingly high body count, masses of explosions, countless stunts, rubbish special effects, pointless scenes, an attempt at deep social commentary and terrible dialogue which is exactly what movies like this are all about.
Oh, and some tits.
Hologram Man is available on YouTube.
FAVOURITE CHARACTER: Slash Gallagher
FAVOURITE MOMENT: Flamethrower Guy just shooting it into the air at random times.
Slash: “Nice to see such an intellectual sphincter such as yourself can achieve such a prestigious position”.
FAVOURITE DEATH: Bank Manager being shot far too many times and a plant falling on him.