Brilliant researchers Lillian Reynolds (Louise Fletcher) and Michael Brace (Christopher Walken) have developed a system of recording and playing back actual experiences of people. Once the capability of tapping into “higher brain functions” is added in, and you can literally jump into someone else’s head and play back recordings of what he or she was thinking, feeling, seeing, etc., at the time of the recording, the applications for the project quickly spiral out of control.
The plot reads like virtual reality on acid — an intriguing idea, but it’s like the idea was 20+ years ahead of what visual effects technology could realistically pull off at the time. The movie just feels very ’80s, and therefore, has not aged well. Natalie Wood plays Michael’s estranged wife, Karen, and a product designer for the research company her husband works for. It also doesn’t help that Natalie Wood and Christopher Walken have little chemistry as a couple.
So, where does a librarian fit into all this? Admittedly, not very well. There are 3 characters listed in the credits as follows:
Jimmy Casino as Tape Library Technician
May Raymond Boss as Tape Library Woman
Clay Boss as Tape Library Man
About an hour and 15 minutes into the film, Michael has been banned from the premises and is trying to hack his way into “Project Brainstorm” and the online tape library. Of course, the higher-ups at the research laboratory catch on to this but allow Michael to think he’s getting away with it. They give the Tape Library Technician the go-ahead to load the “Project Brainstorm” tape. They call him “Jimmy,” so I’m making an educated guess that he’s the Tape Library Technician, although he’s dressed more like a security guard in his drab blue uniform (see above). But now that I think about it, he really is more like a guard than anything else. Sigh.
We then get treated to a look at the oh-so-sophisticated tape library and a close-up of the tape rolls that look like extra special Christmas ribbon (see below). Oooh, shiny! I personally get a kick out of all the warning labels haphazardly placed on the tape roll. DANGER. TOXIC. And another label that clearly states to NOT play the tape for a person. So much for the warning.
Toward the very end of the film, Michael and Karen work together to bring down the research facility and manage to cause the tape library to self-destruct (see below). That’s when the Tape Library Woman and Tape Library Man, dressed in white lab coats, get a few seconds on film. Alas, they are too late to save the tapes. Awwwww, so sad.
So the reel librarians in Brainstorm are really more akin to IT technicians, but I’m feeling in a generous mood. It’s gotta hurt to witness your precious tape library go berserk on you. So they join the other Information Providers in the Class IV category. I’m sure they will find some moral support in there.