Anthony's Film Review

Highlander (1986)

The movie has an interesting concept, but the story and characters aren't developed well enough...

Highlander sounded like an interesting movie. It had to be if it would exist as a cult classic spawning sequels and spin-offs on television. But when I finally saw it, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, there was some good action, not to mention a story idea that wasn't terribly stupid. On the other hand, I felt underwhelmed by the movie. Not by a whole lot, but enough to give it a negative rating.

The movie does seem promising from the start. An introduction lets us know that there are immortals among us, and a few would have a final showdown sometime in our present day. After that, the movie begins at a wrestling matching before one man in the audience, Connor MacLeod (played by Christopher Lambert), leaves the arena. Then a long fight ensues in a parking garage between MacLeod and another man, both with samurai swords. The battle ends with MacLeod decapitating his opponent, after which the dead body releases a torrent of energy that destroys many cars in the area.

It does get a little more interesting when MacLeod is taken away by police for questioning. Soon, the movie goes back in time to the year 1536, 450 years before the present day in 1986, when MacLeod was engaged in war in the Scottish Highlands. He apparently gets killed in battle, but is soon found alive and well. Although he discovers his immortality, the local villagers think he is possessed by the devil. I thought this scene was also interesting.

But after plenty of going back and forth in time, I failed to see what the whole point of the movie was. Yes, MacLeod learns from a fellow mortal, a man named Ramirez (played by Sean Connery), about the Gathering, when the last few immortals left standing will fight to the death for "the Prize." But what is this Prize? Better yet, how and why did MacLeod become immortal? Is it a selection process among some gods? How does MacLeod feel about his immortality? Is there any conflict about it that ordinary mortals do not experience?

Even the present day storyline left me with a bunch of questions. MacLeod eventually faces off with an evil immortal known as the Kurgan, but why exactly was this evil person immortal? Did his evil come before or after discovering his immortality? And when forensics expert Brenda Wyatt (played by Roxanne Hart) learns from MacLeod (who has assumed the name Russell Nash) about his immortality and eventually falls in love with him, what does she do to make sure the police doesn't arrest him? Answers to questions like these could have made the script better. Yes, I suppose the movie is just intended to be mindless fun, but even movies like that need a solid story without gaping holes.

By the time the film's climactic action scene, on the rooftop of Silvercup Studios, finally arrived, I watched it with interest, but I already knew that the scene wasn't going to save the movie. So yeah, I was a bit disappointed with Highlander, and I'm not sure if I'd be interested in watching the sequels and spin-offs. Again, Highlander has its moments, but if I were to rewrite the movie, I would definitely fill in the gaps so that the whole thing is engaging from start to finish. That's what makes a good movie, unlike this one.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Highlander, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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