Like most people, I have a natural tendency to pick up speech patterns from things I watch on TV, and one of the phrases I regularly try to expunge from my vocabulary came from watching several hours of Archer in one go.
It’s hard to expunge “What the shit?!” from one’s speech, however, when what-the-shit-worthy things keep happening—and the latest of these was me sitting down to watch The Highlander Movie That Doesn’t Technically Exist.
Highlander II may be the most what-the-shit thing I’ve ever watched, and I include several Ken Russell films, Scream and Scream Again, and Transylvania 6-5000 on that list.
In fact, one could almost believe in time travel after watching Highlander II: it often feels like a weird melange of movies that came before and after it, including Dune (melange…heh), Dark City, Robocop, Soylent Green, Death Wish, The Fifth Element, the Tim Burton Batman movies, and just a touch of Stargate. The title cards so beloved by the people who make Highlander stuff inform us that the ozone layer went kaput in 1999, glossing over the implication that Connor managed to ruin the earth—okay, okay, or didn’t prevent its ruin— in only 14 years. Now, in 2024, the world is covered by a shield and everything looks very urban-apocalypse.
You know I’m going to say it.
HOW COULD THIS POSSIBLY BE WORSE IF THE KURGAN WON?? THE WHOLE DAMN MOVIE MATCHES HIS OUTFIT!
This is also the movie in which it is revealed that immortals are actually aliens, because that always makes everything better and doesn’t at all stomp viciously on the historical-supernatural intersection that makes the whole Highlander idea interesting in the first place. It does provide a convenient explanation for bringing back Ramirez, though, who I don’t mind nearly as much in this film—he’s a lousy Mr. Miyagi, but “running around and getting things done” has always been Connery’s cinematic bread and butter, so he’s much better used here.
And our villain this time is the alien world’s ruler, Gen. Katana (really, people?), played by Michael Ironside as…I guess as the kind of despot we were supposed to fear in the first movie. (Other immortals probably have to watch Extreme Prejudice as a PSA.) What the Kurgan—and Kane, and Slan—did for unwieldy cars, this guy does for subway trains, and therein lies one of the movie’s strengths: the action sequences are pretty good. I wish I hadn’t had to watch the rest of this to see Connor MacLeod on hover-skates, but I did, and it’s kind of fun.
This is probably the liveliest the Highlander has ever been onscreen, and a pity that it’s in service of this font of subsequent audience amnesia. I started watching Highlander II thinking perhaps the classic Roger Ebert review had been too harsh, since the late, great critic never seemed to have much affinity for any of the genres it could be said to occupy; I eventually concluded that if he had been versed in the Highlander franchise, Ebert might have been even harsher.
Oh, and in this film, rather than dying circa 1993 in a car crash, Brenda dies of solar radiation in 1999. What the shit?
Next time: Get out your Warren Zevon music.