"Game, Set, Match?"
What You Need To Know:
Despite redemptive, moral elements of unifying good to defeat evil, HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME has a pagan worldview with occult and anti-Christian elements. The violence becomes gratuitous and numbing by the end of the movie, although fans of the past movies and TV series may find it exciting to see Lambert and Paul together on screen at the same time. Paul, in fact, has a commanding screen presence that could make him the ultimate successor to Peirce Brosnan in the James Bond role. Finally, an extended scene of depicted sex between Duncan and his estranged, immortal wife also spoil the proceedings
(PaPa, O, Ro, C, AbAb, L, VVV, SS, NN, A, D, M) Mythic pagan worldview with some occult & romantic undertones, plus priest condemns woman who then renounces God, villain wears crucifix on heels of his shoes, many romantic references such as “follow your heart and conscience” & “anything can be forgiven over time,” & redemptive elements where man sacrifices himself so good can defeat evil; 5 obscenities, 3 references to hell; extreme violence including multiple swordfights with depicted blood & decapitations & depictions of limbs cut off, very bloody slow-motion gun fight, woman burned at stake while son watches helplessly, corpse falls on man, man kills unarmed priest, flashback scenes of men dying in battle, woman dies in explosion, & extended hand to hand kung-fu type fighting scene; depicted sex between estranged married couple; upper & rear male & female nudity & models in lingerie; some social alcohol use; man injected with drugs through nose; and, villain bent on revenge by murdering innocent people, profane use of Christian symbols, hero struggles with guilt; & woman links up with villain out of revenge.
HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME, the fourth installment of a series of movies, pits immortals Conor Macleod (Christopher Lambert, star of the first three movies) and Duncan Macleod (Adrian Paul, star of the TV series) against Kell, an immortal priest bent on fulfilling revenge on Conor for killing his mentor hundreds of years before.
THE HIGHLANDER movie series began in 1986, introducing us to Conor Macleod and the world of Immortals. These men and women, whose origins are unknown, go about fighting each other in a battle where only the removal of the head spells death, releasing the “Quickening,” which transfers the power and life-force of the loser into the victor. There are rules to the “game,” such as: one cannot fight on Holy Ground (churches, cemeteries, etc), one or more immortals cannot gang up on another to gain advantage, and most importantly, “in the end, there can be only one.” The popularity of the first movie not only spawned plans for sequels, but also a television series which follows Duncan Macleod (Conor’s distant cousin) through his life as an immortal. The series gained a huge following in both Europe and the U.S. and bore a franchise that has thrived eight years – seemingly immortal itself.
HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME is, however, the first to put the two heroes together on the big screen and actually draws more on the television series than the past movies, bringing in both friends and enemies of Duncan into the big-screen mix. (This may be due to the popularity of the TV series and the obvious aging of Lambert, as well as reaction of disgruntled fans after the second and third Highlander movies, which drifted dramatically from the original intent of the characters). The story is wrapped around an age-old hatred between Kell (Bruce Payne) and Conor. Kell was a Scottish priest’s apprentice in the days that Conor was discovered to be immortal. It was Kell’s mentor, the priest, who came after Conor’s mother and accused her of “black magic” – being a part of a man who could not die. She is burned at the stake before Conor can get to her, and in the process of trying to rescue her, he kills the priest, Kell’s father figure.
Now in the present, Kell still relates to his priesthood by wearing boots with the crucifix engraved on the heels. For hundreds of years, his sole purpose has been to wreak havoc on Conor’s life, killing and murdering anyone about whom Conor cares. After all this time, Conor is still unaware of Kell’s involvement and blames himself for the pain and death he sees all around him. Duncan tracks him down and tries to convince him that it is not his fault and that he cannot lose hope. However, Kell, in his thirst for revenge, has disregarded the rules of immortality and has killed so many immortals that he is all but invincible. The only way for Duncan and Conor to defeat him within the rules is for one of them to sacrifice their life (and Quickening) to the hand of the other, so that, together, they will have a chance at defeating Kell.
HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME is action-packed and contains almost balletic sword-fights and hand-to-hand combat along with some great cinematography (although there are spots where one wonders if perhaps post production ran out of money). Even with these positives, it comes off as nothing more than a two-hour episode of the television series with a higher-than-normal budget. The ending is disappointing, and the filmmakers leave the ending so open that you can be sure they are planning yet another installment, even though most fans will go into this movie expecting (and perhaps hoping) that “in the end there will be only one” and this is not the case. In an eight-year series that depends on the deepening and developing of characters, fans will, in fact, leave wondering what the movie really accomplished besides killing off a few new, unimportant immortals, and one old-timer.
Although fans of the series will definitely be drawn to this movie, MOVIEGUIDE® suggests extreme caution to viewers. The violence becomes gratuitous and numbing by the end of the movie, although fans of the past movies and TV series may find it exciting to see Lambert and Paul together on screen at the same time. Paul, in fact, has a commanding screen presence that could make him the ultimate successor to Peirce Brosnan in the James Bond role. Finally, in an extended sex scene between Duncan and his estranged wife, little is left for the imagination.
If the makers of HIGHLANDER aren’t careful, in the end, there will NEVER be only one.
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