Scanners 2: The New Order (1990)
SCANNERS 2: THE NEW ORDER
WRITER: Screenplay by B.J. Nelson
DIRECTOR: Christian Duguay
STARRING: David Hewlett as David Kellum
Deborah Raffin as Julie Vale
Yvan Ponton as Commander John Forrester
Isabelle Mejias as Alice Leonardo
Tom Butler as Doctor Morse
Raoul Trujillo as Drak
Vlasta Vrana as Lt. Gelson
Dorothee Berryman as The Mayor
QUICK CUT: The Scanners are back, and this time they're Canadian! Instead of a government conspiracy though, the mastermind here it's a police detective trying to use them to further his own goals of wiping out crime and corruption!
David - Our hero, a young veterinary student from Vermont, studying in Undisclosedville. He's a shy, quiet type, who is reserved from being raised a nice, country boy. Oh, and he's also a telepath with amazing mind powers.
Commander Forrester - A cop of some sort in Genericsburg, who is aware of the existence of Scanners, and is plotting to use them as his own private warriors in the war to clean up the streets and the city's government.
Doctor Morse - A doctor who is also aware of Scanners, and is Forrester's lead partner in the endeavours, and struggling to find a way for them to better control the telepaths.
Drak - Along with Gruner and Feck, this movie's jolly pirate club with jolly pirate nicknames. He's the 'evil' Scanner of the movie, raised on the streets, always on the run, and while he's found a place in Forrester's Scanner Squad, he's also highly unstable from years of mental abuse.
Alice - Another student that David meets at Randomcester Downs University, and the love interest of the film.
Julie - Another Scanner with a secret or two, and whose own love interest is one of the sick, drug addicted Scanners in Morse's care.
THE GUTS: Yep, Scanners II! After the horribleness of Killjoy 2, I really needed a palette cleanser, and the original Scanners was pretty good. Although a bit packed with too much plot, so surely the sequel will be good, right?? ...When will I learn?
The movie certainly starts out pretty similarly to its predecessor by having us following some poor vaguely vagranty guy trying to not get caught by the authorities, until he ends up in an arcade.
He starts playing a game, and then freaks out as the flashing lights and noises start to get to him. Dude, do NOT play Polybius if you find it, that will mess you straight up.
Anyways, he keeps mugging for the camera, tossing people around, until his Scanner abilities go haywire and everything explodes.
Not surprisingly, the rampage of Scanner McHighlander draws the attention of the cops, and Commander Forrester in particular, who heads out to join in the chase for the Scanner.
They capture Drak pretty easily, and take him to an undisclosed lab somwhere in the United Canadia of America. Yeeah, this was made at the height of cheap movies and tv made in Canada, but they all tried really hard to not SAY or do anything too Canadian, so instead end up set somewhere in this vague, undefined no man's land between Canada and America.
On the one hand, this makes for a strangely timeless film that could literally be set anywhere, but at the same time makes it feel not grounded in reality, because it can't be set in anything familiar, and everything is just that tiny bit off.
Dr. Morse shows up in the deep basement lab where Drak is being held to try and pitch him on this whole Scanner thing, but the guy immediately starts chewing scenery and scanning the doctor. A guard stops him and shoots him up with a calming drug. We learn this new calming drug, Eph-2, based on the original Ephemerol has the desired effect of lessening the bad sides of being a scanner, but is also highly addictive, which screws up Forrester's plans of making a Scanner army. More on that later!
After that decent plot setup, and drawing a few connections with the first film, we move on to our hero of the movie, David Kellum, as he heads off to vet school. And he's played by David Hewlett, of Stargate: Atlantis fame. Oh, this'll be fun.
Besides Hewlett, there's also Morse, who's played by Canadian character actor mainstay, That Guy! Errr, Tom Butler. If the vague nowhereness of the location wasn't enough of a clue, those two actors alone would give you enough of the mapley scent of Canada all over this movie.
After freaking out a bit during observation of an operation, David meets Alice, and gives some backstory that he's from Vermont. Yay! My boy! With really bad hockey hair mullet, but I digress...
Following a few more freak outs, we move back to Forrester and his Scanner Squad going after a dirty lawyer. The lawyer and his minion try and take them out, but they were ill prepared for psychic abilities.
Once they raid the safe for money and coke, one of them uses the guard to kill his boss, then sends him out to be shot to death by the waiting police. They got their fast! Clearly not set in America. And on a side note, all the gunshots in this movie sound *really* weird and echoy and hollow.
After the attack, Forrester gives a speech to the reporters, and says that this corruption needs to stop, and a new order needs to be established. And there's your title, people!
David and Alice hit up a convenience store to pick up some stuff, and as luck would have it, they get interrupted by some thugs looking to make a withdrawal. Faster than you can say, "I come in peace," bodies start falling left and right.
Our hero uses his Scanner skills to fling one of the robbers across the store, and then makes the other guy's head explode. Yep, this is a Scanners movie all right.
All of this naturally draws the attention of Forrester and his Scanner Squad, so he shows up to have a talk with David. Careful, he might try and recruit you to fight the invading martians!
So David goes to Undisclosed Laboratories and meets with Dr. Morse, who tests him and does some more infodump on what Scanners are.
They introduce David to Drak, so the pair can have a Scan-off, and they can establish that David, thanks to being from the country, never having to deal with the noise of the busy minds of a crowded city, developed his powers more slowly and with less difficulty, so he's more powerful.
Meanwhile, there's been a plot point on the news about a guy poisoning milk and killing kids, so they give David a test to wander around the bottling factory, until he finds the killer as a test of his abilities. Great, maybe he can find my keys...
While visiting Alice in the hospital after she was injured during the robbery, David continues to test his powers by making his girlfriend aroused. The nurse comes in to send him home, but he uses his mental control to shoo her away and they can have hospital sex.
So with David honing his powers of persuasion for sex, Drak heads off to visit the chief of police, and uses his own powers to make the cop eat a gun and commit suicide.
At the press conference to select the new chief, Forrester brings along David to take care of the mayor before he can pick a new chief. This vaguely defined city is going through them like tissues. Of course, this is all part of Forrester's master plan to be in charge, and David forces the mayor to choose Forrester instead of the other guy she had in mind.
Following the press conference, Drak shows up to tease David and tell him about the drugged out junkie scanners in Morse's basement, which leads our hockey headed hero out to investigate.
David shows up at Undisclosed Labs, and tries to scan Forrester, and there's a brief confrontation that leads to David being on the run. Well, so much for having a clean, unaddicted Scanner on your side!
As David runs away, he heads home to Vermont, which 'middle of nowhere in a snowstorm' is about as close as this movie will get to actually pinning down a location. But Drak shows up at Alice's and scans her, knowing David headed home.
So, David talks to his parents about Scanners, and they reveal they're not really his parents, and he is instead the child of Cameron and Kim from the first movie.
Okay, I love the growing connections to the first film. Although, that does raise questions about, wouldn't he be *genetically* the son of Daryl Revok? But I digress, since we never really get into that. But we know they dropped the kid off with these people, disappeared, and are probably dead by now.
While Peter mopes in the woods about his entire life being a lie, Drak and his cop buddy show up, and know Farmer Kellum is lying when he says his son isn't there. Because Scanning.
They shoot up the old people, and David shows up and saves his dad from dying in the back of an ambluance. Before they go their seperate ways, Dad tells David that there is another Skywalker. Er, he has a sister up north.
So he tracks down his sister Julie, who provides a bit more infodump, but also reveals her long lost Scanner love, who was captured and drugged up by Forrester and his friends in Deep 13. Oh, and Forrester was also the guy who killed Camerevok.
Really? The guy survived the entire first movie, melted Revok's brain, took it over, and this tool of a cop killed him? What a lame ending. But now, it's personal. Personal-er, I guess.
With meeting his own Princess Leia out of the way, David heads back to The City and hopefully doesn't run into the Tick along the way.
After David heads to the mayor's and tells her all about Scanners, Forrester finds out and has the mayor assassinated because she now knows too much and will get in the way. Or, it's just been too long since someone's head exploded. Although, lame, it was from a bullet and not mental powers.
David runs from the police squad, but eventually Drak shows up so they can have a confrontation of staring before the movie ends.
But before Drak can make David's head go boom, Julie shows up and saves her brother, and so we can drag the chase out some more.
Alice hears the news that David is wanted for the mayor's murder, and she too decides to get in on the chasing. First though, she has to ditch the policeman keeping her under house arrest. So she throws the soup she's cooking in his face.
The Scanner twins show up at Undisclosed Labs, and Julie teaches her brother the trick of slipping into someone's mind, controlling them, and seeing through their eyes. They use this ability to take over the cop guy that pals around with Drak, and watch as he goes through the lab and gather intel.
And uh, there is also the side effect that the person under their thrall has their eyes gloss over like Storm going on a lightning rampage. That's not exactly inconspicuous.
They see the Scanners in the basement, and they find out Julie's boyfriend is still hanging around down there getting his regular fix. So, when Morse shows up, Julie sends her powers through the cop to take care of Morse. So yeah, they can do that through another person, I guess.
Drak shows up and can sense the scannerjacking of the cop's brain, and tosses him around with his mind powers, while continuing to mug for the camera.
The Scanner takes care of the slight spying problem and makes the cop explode all over the place. As is the Scanner way, I guess.
With their eyes in the lab exploded all over the ceiling, our twin heroes crash into the guard post, probably taking out the guy in there along with the little shack. They continue to raise the body count, until Julie gets fortunately tranked.
David makes his way to Deep 13, and tosses another Scanner through a giant light panel before he can cause any trouble, but that's when Drak shows up. If Drak brought lemons to this fight, McKay is doomed.
The two of them face off, but Drak forgot that he's in a room full of angry, drugged out Scanners, who all leap to David's defense. Unable to fight them all off, it's time for Mugsy McScenechewer to die, but man they drag it out so he can scream and flail a bit more before the end.
Meanwhile, Forrester has heard about the trouble at the lab, shows up as everything is falling apart, with a group of cops in his wake.
But just as he's about to sneak off, an army of reporters show up to ask him about Scanners and his new order plan. He tries to say the only Scanner he knows is the Epson one plugged into his computer, but his lies pretty much all come out at once.
Gee, it would've been nice if we saw HOW they know David's not the mayor's killer, or an escaped mental patient, or how they learned about Scanners, but instead the reporters just kinda know. I can handwave that as them being, y'know, reporters, but at the same time it's a quick handwaving to get past plot points that would've been better seen instead of "Oh, we just know!"
Alice also has shown up, and before she can tell her side of the story (And really, having her do that with the reporters BEFORE, would solve my previous plot problem), Forrester tries to have her arrested. But David shows up, and he's not going to have that, so he tries to melt the guy's brain and force him to reveal his entire evil plan on live tv.
So, that's the end of his master plan to save The City, but before he can be taken away, Forrester tries to shoot David with a shotgun, but that goes not as well as he wanted. I'm telling ya, you should've brought lemons! But when there's two Scanners right there, you're gonna have them try and make your head explode.
But our heroes wuss out before they go through with it, because waaah, no more killing, and he should probably serve jail time. Waaah.
Anyways, now the world knows about Scanners, and David reassures the reports that the mutants mean normal people no harm, and yeah, the X-Men showed me how well THAT goes.
But hey, David and Alice drive off into the snowstorm, the world now knows about Scanners, but how will that play out? I dunno, but a cop who's a scanner sure sounds like a winner of an idea...
Video: Even though this is a low budget, quickly produced movie from 1990, the transfer looks solid, easily because Shout Factory does good work.
Audio: Another good mix, with no complaints.
Sound Bite: "Power doesn't make you good, Dave! It just makes you powerful!" Drak clearly went to the Phoenix school of power, instead of the Uncle Ben classes.
Body Count: This movie absolutely does not skimp on the cranial explosions spraying grey matter everywhere. It may be low budget, but they didn't skimp on the special effects. Nothing quite comes close to the infamous explosion from #1, but they're still good.
1 - Our first body falls when a lawyer gets killed 22 minutes in by his own mind-controlled bodyguard.
2 - And the guard gets sent out to greet the cops who've shown up.
3 - Cashier at a convenience store gets gunned down.
4 - Quickly followed by her coworker in the back.
5 - David uses his powers for the first time and makes one of the robbers headsplode.
6 - The police chief shoots himself in the head and defenestrates himself.
7 - Drak shoots David's mom for funsies.
8 - And David's dad soon dies from his own gunshot wounds.
9 - Sniper explodes the mayor's head the old fashioned way.
10 - Julie makes Dr. Morse fling himself onto an entire palette of Eph-2, and his face melts off.
11 - Drak uses mind bullets to make his cop partner go boom.
12 - I am going to assume the Scanner guard at Undisclosed Labs dies when Julie's jeep crashes into his face.
13 - Julie and David take over the mind of one guard and make him kill another guard.
14 - Who in turn shoots the first guard.
15 - David tosses another Scanner into a light and probably kills him.
16 - Drak becomes a mummified corpse because Scanning?
17 - Apparently, it looks like Julie's boyfriend died because of the drug use and fighting.
Best Corpse: So much lovely blood, but the easy choice is Drak's 'partner' Gelson, whom he makes explode to stop the scanning spies.
Blood Type - B+: Only because they can't be as good as the first movie. As I said, the effects are good, and there's plenty of brains exploding everywhere.
Sex Appeal: Hospital sex!
Drink Up! Every time someone's head explodes. This is a Scanners movie, after all.
Video Nasties: Showcasing off Drak's mugging, some special effects, and this movie's most notable head going asplode, I went with the death of Gelson.
Movie Review: As I am sure is clear from this entire review, it's no surprise my first thoughts are how cheap and low budget and Canadian this movie is. Now, I don't hold that *against* this movie. Scanners 2 is a product of its time. Canada was a cheap place to make movies, but they couldn't be TOO American, but then they didn't want to make it very Canadian, so you get that weird Nowhereness of it. If you don't know about it, it's easy to miss, and they just never say where the movie is set. But once you're savvy, and you know about these things, it's hard to NOT spot the awkwardness of the bending they do. So, the situation is what it is. That said, the movie lacks a lot because Cronenberg didn't have anything to do with the sequel. It loses a LOT of his style and paranoia, playing with the more psychological drama of the situations, but they do manage to instead use the same universe to build a decent scifi adventure film. It's nowhere near as good or stylish because of that, but the story is just fine, and the movie is well made for its budget and limitations. Three out of five needles filled with Eph-2.
Entertainment Value: This is definitely a situation where the low budget leads to fun times. The movie is populated with "Oh! THAT guy!"s, and that's always fun to play spot the actor. The 90s style is a trip. And the acting is SO cheesy at times, with so much mugging at the camera when the Scanners use their powers. They really need to take lessons from the less is more school of telepath acting. It's all in the eyes, they don't need all the D: faces and growling, most of the time. If they're struggling, sure, show the concentration, but otherwise it just looks silly. But spoilers, this movie is not the worst offender of that, and while yes its silly, it IS entertaining to boot. But even though the mind power acting is silly, these guys also do very solid work otherwise. Although David Hewlett as a pseudo action star doesn't quite work for me, he really brings some decent depth and charm to his namesake. So, Scanners 2 is very low budget, very 90s, very Canadian, and very cheesy. Four out of five pans of boiling soup in the face.