One of our favourite things here at the ISCFC is weird sequels – we’ve done an article on it, we coined the term “unquel” to describe some of them – and the last couple of days have brought us a few fine examples. “Cyborg 2” makes the least amount of effort possible to be called a sequel, but I presume very few of you are bothered about this preamble because, yes, it’s Angelina Jolie’s first movie (apart from one she did as a kid with dad Jon Voight).
The original “Cyborg” had a look, of sorts – arid post-apocalyptic landscapes, derelict buildings, that sort of rag-effect future-clothing – but part 2 is mostly indoors (the underground city where humanity lives, a large museum, and all sorts of tunnels and cellars, lots of blues). It doesn’t really feel anything like the first film at all – not the clothing, the people, or the world, so why they chose to resurrect the name of an awful 4-year old movie to make this a sequel to is a reason presumably relegated to a subclause of a contract somewhere.
At this point in things, the apocalypse is more a faint distraction than it is a thing that happened. Two companies, one Japanese, one American (Pinwheel), are feuding for control of the world robotics market; humanity lives in underground cities, except for the poorer folk who live “topside”. Cyborgs have taken over much of humanity’s grunt work, plus stuff like prostitution, but Pinwheel has yet another use for them and has invented Glass Shadow, a liquid explosive that cyborgs can carry round in their “blood” until it’s time for them to explode. They’ve chosen one particular model with the most advanced human-like personality, Casella (Jolie), to take a bodyful of Glass Shadow to the base of the Japanese corporation and destroy the competition.
Elias Koteas, who’s entertained in movies as different as “The Thin Red Line” and “Some Kind Of Wonderful”, is the martial arts trainer for the cyborgs, and naturally, as Angelina Jolie is 22 and almost unfairly beautiful, he falls in love with her, despite fraternising with cyborgs being a complete no-no. But it’s handled in the weirdest way, like there’s no moments between them, the movie just treats it as a thing that has to happen.
Jack Palance shows up, although I’d lay good money on them having paid him for a day, filmed his three scenes then recorded all his oddball dialogue as quickly as possible (nothing like having hacker-speak coming out of the mouth of a 74 year old man). His skills mean he can appear on any screen anywhere to help our heroes with their quest, which starts to get a bit complicated when you factor in all the people who want to blow other people up and so on, including perennial bad guy Billy Drago as an extremely creepy assassin.
There’s a trek across “topside”, with an attempt to esape to Mombasa, the only free place for cyborgs to live apparently, and an underground fight league denouement that really feels like it came out of nowhere. There’s also a weird attempt to tie this into the first movie, as Angelina is shown video of JCVD, saying that cyborg succeeded because she had a human hero; so she needs to get one of her own. But…dammit! The bridge which is shown collapsed at the beginning of part 1 is seen fine during part 2! Of all the landmarks you could show! Why not watch your own damn movies?
“Cyborg 2” feels like it’s four hours long. I realise getting angry, or just annoyed, is way more emotional investment than a 20 year old low budget sci-fi film deserves. Just laugh and move on! But…it’s a shame when interesting ideas are used this badly. It’s like a severely head-injured version of 1997’s “The Fifth Element”, honestly. It’s got a good (if rather oddly matched) cast, including one of the luckiest piece of lead casting in low-budget movie history, but none of it really makes any sense.
Perhaps it was written by a cyborg, who did not understand our curious human ways. Which would be a good way to explain the ending, surely one of the more inexplicable ones we’ve come across. The big dramatic narrator story about taking some of another’s life on to live like them, or whatever the hell it is, is utterly ignored, and we get a final shot which viewers of “Highlander” will recognise – only that shot was 40 minutes into the movie, and there was a load of fun stuff after that. This just had Jack Palance droning on for a few more seconds, then the credits.
Well done on making a boring movie about killer future robots, you guys! Seriously, how hard can it be?
Rating: thumbs down