With the re-release of this special edition DVD, I’d hoped that the filmmakers had somehow salvaged this film from oblivion, but the film still remains a big disappointment given the escapism and charm of the first film. The impression I’d had was that filmmakers idea for the sequel had been well intended, and I can imagine that the premise would’ve been closer to films such as Twelve Monkeys, The Matrix or Blade Runner with it’s comic book style and the huge budget. Unfortunately, it fails to achieve the spectacle and majesty of blockbusters which would succeed it, notably Terminator 2 and Speed. As you would expect, the set pieces and action sequences are ridiculously over the top, but, even for the early 1990s, the costly futuristic design look amateurish.
The photography of cityscapes and the crane shot in the opening opera scene appear sumptuous and grandiose, but is down hill shortly after this first impression. This is despite the restored twenty minute scenes which the director had inserted to make the narrative more coherent. In 1991, after production went over budget by several million dollars, the studio decided to remove the filmmakers and edit the film for its release, now over a decade later this special edition DVD re-release, The Renegade Version, has given the director Russell Mulcany and his producers an opportunity to fix the problems which disrupted the plot the first time around.
However, a clunky backstory showing an exposition to the origins of the immortals and how the two heroes, Lambert and Connery, came to their fate does nothing but confuse. The immortals somehow traveled from another dimension (or even another planet) seems inexplicable ad absurdum, this is despite the history of the first film where Connery and Lambert were shown meeting in Scotland during the middle-ages and not engaged in a civil war from some other parallel universe. This remains a muddled letdown which is hard to overlook even for die-hard fans.
I think there are moments which gives a sense of the scale that the filmmakers aspired to, but this is sullied by its bizarre premise and narrative ellipsis The dystopian future shows Lambert, now a wealthy and solitary old man, having a flashback which explain the ozone shield around the Earth’s surface which blocks out the sun, and his life after surviving as ‘the one’ from the first film. As in the original Highlander, this is meant to appear romantic, but instead it’s quickly interrupted with a Wizard of Oz style wicked witch scene of the chief villain planning his invasion; again this seems illogical for if his enemy had imprisoned Lambert on Earth centuries earlier, why was this not mentioned in the first film, and why have they waited to invade now, especially since Earth has become almost uninhabitable?
Connery is perhaps the biggest disappointment, as his part does little for the plot except distract from the terrible faux romance scenes between Lambert and the female leader of the terrorists who want to destroy the ozone shield. Confused? Connery has a few scenes where he walks around, interrupts a play, does some shopping, flirts with a passenger on an airplane, but the weird tongue-in-cheek comic relief does little to either add laughs or justify his presence. In contrast to the first film, we cared about their friendship and felt bad when beheaded Connery, here there is simply nothing to like about the characters since it just becomes a one-liner-buddy movie action comedy, which seemed so popular in Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours, but there is little nostalgia or poetry about the theme immortality.