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‘Highlander’ A Mess Of A Time-Travel Story

Stephen Holden New York Times

How could an action-adventure film that cost $34 million, most of which clearly went into pyrotechnics, computerized special effects and scenic locations, end up looking cheap, silly and lifeless?

To find out, see “Highlander: The Final Dimension.”

The third and last episode of the series starring Christopher Lambert as a time-traveling Scot is an incoherent mess.

Directed by Andy Morahan, who comes from the world of music video, it follows the immortal Connor MacLeod (Lambert), as he darts through several centuries pursued by his arch-enemy, Kane (Mario Van Peebles). Whoever manages to decapitate the other will possess the power to create illusions.

“Highlander” is awash in illusions. The movie’s tiresome overuse of morphing, in which objects suddenly quiver into jelly and change into something else, spells the kiss of death for this particular cinematic trick.

Morphing is no substitute for acting. And “Highlander: The Final Dimension” has performances that are one-dimensional even by the undemanding standards of the genre. The discrepancy between Lambert’s heroic posturing and his voice, which sounds like a meek hybrid of Vincent Price and Peter Lorre, has never been more glaring.

Van Peebles’s villain suggests Attila the Hun as imagined by Alice Cooper. He wears a nose ring and has lips and teeth stained with what looks like runny black mascara.

As Alex Johnson, a nosy archeologist who becomes Connor’s lover, Deborah Unger delivers her lines in a monotone.

The screenplay is riddled with howlers. In one scene Connor, who happens to be visiting 18th-century France, is interrupted during a tryst in a haystack by a friend frantically waving his arms.

“They need you in Paris!” the friend shouts. “The revolution has started!”

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