In the future, Highlander Connor MacLeod must prevent the destruction of Earth under an anti-ozone shield.
Let’s pretend Highlander II: The Quickening is a stand alone movie and isn’t a sequel to a Cult Classic.
The movie opens in the future setting of 1999. Apparently the Earth’s ozone is gone and people are dying by the millions, including MacLeod’s wife. On her death bed she makes him promise to stop that terrible burden on society called ‘The Sun’ no matter it what it takes. Flash forward a little bit and MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) is now leading a team of scientists. They appear to have successfully built a death ray to finally give the sun a taste of its own medicine. Oh wait, I guess it is a planetary shield. Well, same difference for the Earth.
Flash forward to maybe 25 years later (there is a plaque that says ’25 years under the shield’ but was that plaque just placed there this year?) MacLeod is an old man dozing in a theater. Suddenly he hears a disembodied voice in his head and experiences a flash back. Apparently MacLeod comes from another planet in another galaxy, some 500 years ago. There is a group of rebels and Ramirez (Sean Connery) gathering in a bombed out ship. They appear to be on some kind of crappy desert planet named Zeist. Ramirez goes on about how they finally can complete their rebellion and no longer have to suffer through it leaderless (all this time they didn’t have a leader?). He draws a sword and points to the crowd and says ‘there is your leader.’ Now, my impression is that he was just hoping one of the people won’t turn around. As luck should have it MacLeod doesn’t, and is proclaimed leader of the Rebellion. Ramirez goes through some weird ritual with MacLeod that bonds them together on some sort of energy level, and then they are attacked. MacLeod, the new leader of the rebellion as of five minutes ago, leads his troops to destruction and they are killed to a man save MacLeod and Ramirez, who are taken prisoner by General Katana (Michael Ironside).
MacLeod and General Katana exchange some pointless banter about how much they hate each other, and then the courts sentence MacLeod and Ramirez to a life of immortality on a far away planet named Earth. Apparently they are being sent there to acquire a prize (of which only one person can claim) and then the winner can choose to either die of old age or return to Zeist. They are promptly teleported away.
Flash back to old MacLeod, who goes to a bar to drink away the pain. From this we determine that MacLeod won the prize and decide to remain on earth and die, possibly because of his dead lady friend. Did you know that shield he created blocks out the sun and made the whole earth hot and super humid? I’ll bet the Earth’s plants sure thought that was a sucky compromise, along with all the humans who probably starved to death when all the plants died. Anyways, now the Earth is in perpetual nighttime.
Jump over to a group of terrorists breaking into the Shield Generator. Is there goal to destroy it? Apparently not, they just want to know what the weather is like above the shield. Turns out the ozone layer is fine. Thirty seconds later the terrorists are running for their lives and one of them is a woman. She manages to escape.
Jump back to the planet Zeist. For some reason the council is heckling General Katana that MacLeod is still alive and hasn’t returned. Anyways, Katana decides to send two identical henchmen to Earth to finish MacLeod off. One of these idiots even points out to the General that MacLeod will likely die of old age in a matter of weeks. The General doesn’t care, even though he has waited 500 years, 500 years and 3 weeks it too long. Given what we’ve seen of the planet Zeist, staying on Earth is the smart choice (at least pre-MacLeod screwed over the Earth with a shield Earth). The aliens appear to immortal on their planet too, so I’m not sure why they made a point of saying the exiled guys will be immortal.
The woman, named Louise Marcus (Virginia Madsen) somehow stumbles upon MacLeod while he is drinking his sorrows away and being harassed by some woman for building a life saving (but world destroying) shield. He happened to cut his hand and it instantly healed, which he was sad about. She says she’s been trying to get a hold of him and has admired him her whole life. Seems kind of weird, but whatever.
While they are outside suddenly the two Zeist twins show up and one of them attacks MacLeod, this sequence of random running around literally takes over eight minutes until MacLeod manages to decapitate his attacker with a train. Then MacLeod receives a jolt of lightning (The Quickening) and is made young again. Then the other Zeist twin attacks him. MacLeod steals a hoverboard and the two fly around for another ten minutes until the twin is also decapitated. MacLeod goes over to a shocked Louise, and tries to explain, but when that fails they randomly have sex up against a building in this filthy city. This literally happens like 10 seconds after battle ends.
MacLeod heads to the Shield Corporation and gets in because he still has his own fingerprints. He talks to some old white guy, who says “that was forty years ago.” So it was 40 years and not 25 years ago? This means every Wikipedia page I’ve looked at that says the movie is set in 2024 is wrong. Anyways, he gets kicked out of the building when the CEO (John C. McGinley) doesn’t want to hear about an ozone layer that exists. Somehow the shield which “saved” all life on the planet is a money making corporation, and not a government funded entitlement on life.
Oh, while MacLeod was fighting he starting randomly saying Ramirez’s name, and lo and behold Ramirez materializes on a stage in Scotland. This might be why people called MacLeod the Highlander, but because we are pretending this is a standalone movie, we don’t know why. Rameriz steals a sword from the stage (which I’m guessing is a non-functional prop) and then uses one of his earrings to pay for a new suit and fly to New York City.
Meanwhile General Katana sees that his idiot plan to send more people to Earth and make MacLeod immortal again has backfired and decides to go himself. He arrives inside a subway car and proceeds to go to the front, turn it up to 700+ units of velocity (maybe we’ll be on KPH by 2024, err 2039). This kills everyone in the train car, except Katana. Then the train car emerges from the subway at a not very fast speed, and Katana wanders off. I’m just going to paraphrase all of Katana’s pointless actions throughout the movie. He harasses a cabbie and a bunch of other people. He meets with MacLeod in a church and they can’t fight because it is holy ground. He eventually goes to the head of the Shield Corporation and allies with the CEO to take down MacLeod.
So MacLeod, Ramirez, and Louise break into Shield Corporation. The two men use their immortality to just drive in and get shot up while Louise hides in the trunk. Then they are all three taken to the infirmary (this facility has both a private security force authorized to use deadly force AND an infirmary, and yet the city at large doesn’t appear to have a police force). The trio get into some stupid room with a stupid spinning fan, and Rameriz uses some magic to hold the fan up and open a door, and then disintegrates. So Rameriz is a magician, and MacLeod can bring people back from the dead, or something.
Then MacLeod is finally able to fight General Katana, MacLeod wins, and then uses the Quickening to destroy the shield, bringing an end to this nightmare that MacLeod created (both the movie and the shield).
Wait, was this movie supposed to be a cautionary tale of our future if we don’t stop polluting? Because if so, the message is the Earth will fix itself if we just leave it alone for a few years. Good to know.
If you watched the movie on Hulu (or somewhere else) today, you wouldn’t see any mention of the planet Zeist. Apparently a few years after this disaster of a movie came out, they went back and touched up some of the special effects, changed the sequence of events, and re-shot a few scenes to completely remove any mention of the planet. In the new version, General Katana sends MacLeod and Rameriz into the future. This makes even less sense than an alien race banishing people to Earth.
In preparing for this review I watched the new version on Hulu, but also looked up YouTube videos to see the original (which is what I saw on VHS back in the day). I also used several Wiki websites to fill in a few gaps. That being said, as noted above, there are some errors on those Wiki pages (surprise!).
According to one video review I watched, Sean Connery has only reprised two roles in his entire career. He reprised his role of James Bond, and he reprised his role as Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez.
Lets go back and say this is a sequel to a Cult Classic. In the original Highlander, the story is largely centered around the police detectives attempting to figure out who is killing people in New York and cutting off their heads. In this movie, there is no indication that police even exist anymore. It is basically the same as in the first season of Heroes, you see the FBI trying to stop the serial killer Sylar, but by season 2 I guess they don’t care anymore.