“The Quest for Mortality Begins”
Directed by Brett Leonard
Starring Adrian Paul, Peter Wingfield, Jim Byrnes and Thekla Reuten
In a post-Apocalyptic future, a group of Immortals are searching for The Source; the thing that makes them Immortal. Reluctantly dragged into the quest by his mortal ex and his old friend Watcher Joe is Duncan MacLeod, now a surly man with stubble and anger.
One by one, the Immortals are picked of by the Guardian, a super-Immortal with impossible speed and strength, and they learn that as they approach the Source they are becoming mortal. Despite being basically told that if they fight over the Source they will, best case scenario, be reduced to some immobile, corpulent mockery of life, one of the remaining questers betrays the others, but Methos buys Duncan a chance for the prize, and by defeating but not killing the Guardian he proves worthy of the ultimate prize: Mortality.
That’s not a spoiler, it’s in the tagline, and also what the Prize was in the first film.
What’s wrong with it?
Once again, the principle of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is gleefully discarded. The Guardian’s superspeed replaces flashy swordfights with blurred composite shots, and the plot is almost as much of a mess. The film also uses a cover version of Queen’s Princes of the Universe for the big hero walk moment, which is pretty much unforgivable by any standard. Nothing in this film is explained, from the sudden appearance of the Source to the bizarre tactics of the questers or the treacherous priest’s extraordinary hair.
Also, the film spits on its heritage, as dubious as it is, not only by reinterpreting ‘there can be only one’, but by shattering Duncan’s trademark katana and replacing it with a pair of butterfly swords. It’s like this film is embarrassed to be a Highlander movie, which is pretty rich.
What’s right with it?
Not a goddamned thing.
How bad is it really?
In absolute terms, it’s probably not as bad as The Quickening, but it’s a meaningless distinction.
Best bit (if such there is)?
There really isn’t anything much.
What’s up with…?
- The Guardian taunting MacLeod by singing ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’?
- The Source making them mortal even as it sends the Guardian after them?
- Why doesn’t the Guardian just kill them all at once? Is the one-on-one rule in effect again? Why does the goon in the iron neck-brace care?
- Why are they bringing the mortal along? I mean, she turns out to be the key to the whole thing, but they don’t know that.
Production values – Shooting Eastern Europe-for-post-Apocalypse really doesn’t cut it anymore. The speed fights are poorly done, and much of the film is in this bizarre ‘trashcan fire’ lighting effect that doesn’t do anyone any favours. 14
Dialogue and performances – No-one seems to have any real enthusiasm for the proceedings, and even the old hands are phoning it in now, as you might expect when asked to speak lines suggesting that a massive shift in the orbits of the planets, substantial enough that Saturn is visible in the sky could be due to ‘orbital wobble’. Bring back Roger Daltrey; all is forgiven! 17
Plot – Thin, with far too much padding of far too little quality or consequence. The original’s succession of sword fights with a more or less foregone conclusion constitutes a better story than this. 19
Randomness – The Guardian’s weird attacks on the fourth wall and bizarre Kurgan impressions. Duncan MacLeod’s ninth one true love. Nurgle-immortal. 12
Waste of potential – By this point, we weren’t expecting much. We still get less. 14