So, we come to the end of the “Scanners” series, which has been…alright? I didn’t love Cronenberg’s original (although it’s clearly the class act in this field), part 2 was terrible, part 3 was great, and the first “Scanner Cop” was dull. So what of the final entry?
“Scanner Cop 2” has, perhaps, the most Aggressive Staring (TM) of any of the franchise. There’s one scene where the villain is doing his thing (which involves sucking the life force out of another scanner, a hitherto unknown power) and it goes on for what feels like three or four minutes – just him staring at another guy, and that guy gradually turning into a skeleton. I think I’ve officially reached my limit of watching movies where people just stare at each other, and you know who’s winning via whose musical sting is loudest.
It’s an unwelcome return for Samuel (Daniel Quinn), the only person to appear in more than one “Scanners” movie, now an LAPD detective (whether he’s still got the same ludicrous mansion he had when he was just a trainee is never mentioned). He’s getting called on by his superior officer, Captain Jack Bitters (Robert Forster, just before Quentin Tarantino briefly saved him from obscurity), to do all sorts of scanner-based crime-solving, and for those of you who remembered him taking Ephemerol at the end of part 1 to control his powers, it’s handwaved away rather magnificently by Bitters saying to an underling “he’s got a special new sort of Ephemerol which allows him to use his powers with no side-effects”. Never mentioned again, never paid off.
There’s a subplot about him searching for his birth mother, which involves the Trans Neural Research Center, and their lovely employee Carrie Goodart (Khrystyne Haje). She distributes Ephemerol to people who can’t afford a prescription for it, and although it’s never mentioned at this point, she’s a scanner too. “Hey, sexy doctor lady, I have this special new Ephemerol that allows you to still use your powers, if you’d like to try it” – NO. This doesn’t happen. Anyway, despite his mother not giving him up, so there being no issues of privacy, and him being a damn cop, he needs help to find her.
The sole bright spark is the villain, one Karl Volkin (Patrick Kilpatrick). His motivation is terribly boring (revenge after Samuel tried to arrest them, and scannered Karl into shooting his own brother), but he realises how silly all this is and goes with it. His scenes from when he’s in the mental hospital are hilarious, and he appears to be doing an impression of the Tasmanian Devil (animated version) – despite them saying he’s getting crazier the longer he goes without Ephemerol, he never reaches those wild heights of overacting again.
Pretty much everything about “Scanner Cop 2” is just sort of okay. There’s dumb logic holes everywhere you look, and the plot is completely standard, but there’s an occasional spark of comedy, or a decent performance from a b-movie regular (such as Ellen Dubin or Eugene Robert Glazer), to elevate things ever-so-slightly. And some of the effects are really quite gross, but I got a bit bored of the camera focusing on them twice as long as was necessary.
I do have one more weird thing to mention, though, and that’s the fact his mother is in a retirement home. How old do you think Daniel Quinn is? (serious question, he doesn’t have it listed on IMDB). Let’s say, at the outside, 35. His mother appears pretty sprightly, she runs down a corridor, doesn’t look frail at all…so why the hell is she in a retirement home? I’d expect her to still be working, looking like she does! Why didn’t they just have her in a mental hospital, trying to deal with her scanning powers?
Ultimately, though, it’s so bland I can’t even be bothered to write a full-length review of it. Cut every EXTREME STARING scene down to 20 seconds (which is about as long as they ever lasted in the original), remove the scenes they just re-used from the first “Scanner Cop” (cars pulling into hospital – the scene is a straight lift) and you’ve got a reasonably punchy hour-long movie. As it is, thumbs down for the last of the series. See you when the remake comes out!
Rating: thumbs down