Shaken and embattled during its completion phase, and carrying the memory of Natalie Wood's death Brainstorm is a high-tech $18 million movie dependent on the visualization of a fascinating idea.
Producer-director Douglas Trumbull’s effects wizardry – and the concept behind it – is the movie. The fetching idea [story by Bruce Joel Rubin] is a brain-wave device that gives characters the power to record and experience the physical, emotional and intellectual sensations of another human being.
On the downside, majority of players, including stars Christopher Walken and Wood as a married couple in a research environment, seem merely along for the ride. The film’s acting surprise is Louise Fletcher, whose flinty, career scientist is a strong flavorful, workaholic portrait.
The film offers irrefutable evidence that Natalie Wood’s drowning (in November 1981) did not cause the filmmakers to drastically re-write or re-shoot scenes. Her work appears intact and, reportedly, only one scene had to be changed (with actor Joe Dorsey replacing Wood in a scene with Walken).
Cliff Robertson earnestly plays the compromising head of a vast research complex that employs colleagues Walken and Fletcher. Predictably, a government bogeyman is trying to gum up pure science for the sake of national security.