Eric D. Snider

Highlander: Endgame

In the "Highlander" movies and TV series, they're fond of saying, "In the end, there can be only one." Too bad that policy doesn't apply to "Highlander" movies.

In this fourth and allegedly final entry, the Scottish immortal from the films, Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), finally joins forces with his brother, Duncan (Adrian Paul), the hero of the TV series, to battle one evil immortal named Jacob Kell (Bruce Payne) to prevent him from absorbing all immortal power and using it for malevolence.

Or at least that's what the trailers and promotional materials tell us. Actually, Connor and Duncan don't decide to fight Kell (or even fully realize they have to) until the film is two-thirds over. Once they've decided that, the actual defeating of Kell is a pretty perfunctory task, with absolutely no suspense whatsoever.

What happens before all that is a lot of jumping through time, to show us vignettes from the immortals' lives over the past few centuries, often stylishly filmed but never amounting to anything. We know that Connor is extremely bitter at Kell for having Connor's mother (June Watson) burned at the stake. We also know that Kell is equally ticked at Connor for killing Kell's foster father (Donald Douglas) in the process of trying to save his mother.

As if that's not enough revenge to last you 500 years, there's also Duncan's situation. Seems he married a woman named Kate (Lisa Barbuscia) who had the potential to be immortal like him -- a desirable situation, since otherwise she'd get old and die and he'd be lonely. In order to make her immortal, he stabbed her in the chest (the movie does not bother mentioning how, exactly, killing someone makes them immortal). So now she'll never die, which is NOT something she asked for, and which has her pretty steamed. She's gone so far as to leave Duncan and join up with Kell's posse of fellow immortals who go around causing mayhem and trying to kill the MacLeods.

In case ya didn't know, the only way to kill an immortal is to lop of his head with a sword. Of course, this stretches the definition of "immortal" -- "not subject to death" -- but you go along with it with "Highlander" out of politeness.

What you're not liable to go along with is "Highlander: Endgame's" random method of storytelling and the inclusion of things that simply don't make much sense. (If they're counting on everyone having seen the first three movies, they're stupid: Part 3 grossed only $14 million; Part 2 did $15 million; even the original cult classic made only $6 million in theaters. In other words, this is not "Star Wars," where you can count on the audience knowing the backstory.)

Perhaps if you've seen the other three films, you'll know who Rachel is, and why she was killed, and why Connor is so devastated by it that for 10 years he's been in a sort of rudimentary cryogenic "sanctuary." Perhaps you can also fill the rest of us in on why, exactly, "in the end, there can be only one" -- and if that's the case, how there manages to be so many for such long periods of time. At what point do we reach "the end," which presumably is the deadline by which there must be only one immortal remaining? I guess it's the end of this movie, because that's when there's only one left, and there are no prizes for guessing which one it is.

Kate complains about being an immortal, grousing about "the endless, numbing sameness of it all." I know how she feels.

Grade: D

Rated R, abundant bloody stabbings and beheadings,

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