Monday, March 13, 2017

Short Attention Span Review: Highlander (1986)

Short Attention Span Review: Highlander (1986)

A mild success upon its initial release, Russell Mulcahy's Highlander emerged as a cult classic and inspired a handful of inferior sequels and a goofy television series--and a couple of animated ventures too.  Christopher Lambert was a unique choice for the lead role, and while he would go on to play several action heroes in other movies after this franchise grew wings, none of those flicks would prove nearly as memorable.  In fact, aside from The Hunted, I'm not sure that any of them are any good, though a handful (Fortress, Knight Moves, and Gunmen) are at least watchable.  He does a fine job here, though he is overshadowed by the gifted Clancy Brown in what is likely his finest role.  Brown is simply impeccable as the Kurgan, a cold-blooded madman who is every bit as entertaining and quotable as he is imposing and loathsome.  Lambert is also upstaged at every turn by Sean Connery as his bold mentor, the spirited Ramirez.  I don't intend to downplay Lambert's contributions; as I stated before, this picture spawned quite the franchise, and several other actors would try (and fail) to fill his shoes in the lead role.  The direction by Russell Mulcahy, who had recently turned heads with his cheap but vivid shocker Razorback, gives the picture some serious punch.  The opening tracking shot in an arena and the dolly work on display during the grand finale are both truly spectacular, and Mulcahy invests a lot of energy into every frame.  Another big assist to Highlander comes courtesy of legendary rock act Queen, who put together one hell of an album in support of the film.  Finally, Gregory Widen's screenplay is inventive and brimming with drama, making Highlander stand out by virtue of the way it blends action, science fiction, fantasy, and romance together.  I fell in love with this picture the first time I saw it, and it's one of those rare gems that I seem to appreciate a little more every time I sit down to watch it.

Final Grade: A+

Lambert is solid in the lead role, but Clancy Brown steals the show as the fiendish villain--and Sean Connery also frequently upstages Lambert's MacLeod as his flamboyant mentor, Ramirez.

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