September 7, 2000

If End is What it Means

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With most unbearable action flicks, viewers have at least the luxury of laughing at the hilariously unbelievable situations most of them portray. For instance, when Arnold Scwarzenegger plays a religious commando pitted against Satan during a very apropos Christmas season, the result is — if not deliriously funny — a bit zany.

However, moviegoers are not afforded even that silver lining in the case of Highlander: The Endgame, which takes its insipid and convoluted plot so seriously that it leaves little room for hilarity.

As if three weren’t already enough, this fourth installment of the series tells the story of immortals — don’t ask what they are, apparently even the director doesn’t know. Jacob Kell (Bruce Payne), an evil immortal, is hunting down his sworn enemy, Connor Macleod (Christopher Lambert) who had killed Kell’s father centuries before. Added to the mix is Connor’s pupil Duncan Macleod, played by Adrian Paul, who must not only defend his mentor but also reconcile his relationship with an immortal woman he broke up with nearly 300 years earlier.

Apparently immortals are all involved in some sort of game, not much unlike Survivor (except for the fact that the final prize probably isn’t cash and a Pontiac). Since there can be only one left standing at the end of eternity, immortals vote other immortals off the island by cutting off their heads.

And so Connor and Duncan must fend off Jacob’s attempts to eradicate them. They do so through a series of sword-fights which, besides presenting a breather from monotonous dialogue, only serve to extend the movie’s length to a full 95 minutes.

Unfortunately all three central characters are at a distinct disadvantage, having to live up to the name of Sean Connery, the original Highlander. Though Connery played a Spaniard with a thick Scottish accent, he nonetheless set the bar a bit too high for these fellows. The trio play their roles with less conviction than expected of immortals who supposedly take the power of whomever they kill.

While the actors do indeed have it rough, they wouldn’t be wrong in blaming the director and writers for putting the audience in a sour mood from the get-go. Unlike most movies, which try to explain their plots to viewers, this one begins with a opening description that goes something like, “Immortals somehow appeared on the Earth, but we don’t know how. They’re competing in a game, but we can’t really tell you what it is.”

Perhaps the only redeeming quality of Highlander: The Endgame is its title. If it is indeed the end, at least we are spared the agony of dealing with another installment.

Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj