Picks and Pans Review: Highlander

updated 03/31/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/31/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

This picture is a mesmerizing triumph of style over substance. Director Russell Mulcahy, a music video director, has turned what might have been just another wacky fantasy adventure into a moody combination of Blade Runner, The Terminator and your last really good nightmare. The plot centers on Christopher (Greystoke) Lambert, who plays a Scottish warrior destined to fight a battle that will determine the fate of the earth. He's 468 years old, one of a band of immortal knights who have been waiting for the Gathering, which seems to be the Super Bowl of knightdom. The origin of their strength isn't clear. Even Sean Connery as Lambert's mentor (played so earnestly he's like Yoda with a good hairpiece) doesn't know. When Lambert asks Connery, he replies, "Why does the sun come up? Or are the stars merely pinholes in the curtain of night?" Right, uh, well, thanks, Sean; let's keep in touch. Mulcahy uses all manner of light effects as he cuts back and forth between 16th-century Scotland and modern Manhattan. All the backlighting, silhouetting, ominous shadows and stark rays of light become entities of their own. Roxanne (The Verdict) Hart, as a police forensics expert, is a comely enough foil, though she's one of the worst screamers ever. Most women shriek more at the checkout counter when they find out their paper towel coupon is out of date than Hart does when she's dangling by one hand stories above the ground. Lambert is no Schwarzenegger in physique, and his accent isn't as muscular either. But he does have those Brando-like feral eyes. Anyway, the climactic battle has less to do with him and archenemy Clancy (The Bride) Brown than it does with the special effects. (R)

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