Sonny Carl Davis
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Trancers 2 (1991)
24th Jan 12
Jack Deth battles a trancer revival in 1991 led by Richard Lynch and aided by his dead in the future wife. Helen Hunt is not happy about that at all.
Jack Deth is back! Yes, it's 1991, it's a full 6 years since Trancers and Charles Band has created Full Moon Productions, giving him enough clout to go back and create a sequel to one of the most fun low-budget sci-fi projects from the 80s, Trancers. And in Trancer-world, it's also 1991, it's been 6 years since Jack Deth sent the last of Whistler's trancers packing, and Jack is still protecting Hap Ashby, the former drunk bum from the first movie that is going to be the father of an ancestor of one of the leaders of the future. Helen Hunt is still around too as his live in wife, although she's getting bored of living at Hap's palatial LA pad and wants them to branch out and buy there own home. She's quite insistant actually, until the gardener turns in to a trancer and tries to kill them, and then McNulty, his boss from the future, turns up in the body of his teenage ancestor, with shocking news.
Apparently Richard Lynch is Whistler's brother (which is great because we love Richard Lynch) and he's gone back to the 90s to set up a trancer farm. The leaders of the future have sent back a trancer hunter to stop him, and the hunter they've picked is Jack's dead wife, which they achieved by going back in time to just before she died, then sending her down the line into the body of a hot teenage ancestor. Oh, and that teenage ancestor is a bit nuts though and - get this - is living on Richard Lynch's trancer farm. What are the chances? Anyway, McNulty has come back to warn Jack, but he's also bought this magic gold coin device. When you throw the gold coin to the ground it marks the spot (which they do) then within 48 hours a two-seater time capsule is going to appear there, transported from the future. Only this time when they initiate the gold coin device, in Hap's yard, the capsule comes back with a door missing. Ah, it's obvious - Jack's wife must have initiated her gold coin thing at the same time, hence why only a door has turned up on her gold coin in Richard Lynch's barn!
Jack's mission, if you hadn't worked it out, was to get Richard Lynch and himself in to the capsule and head back to the future, mainly because Richard Lynch is a big old bad guy (that's enough) and Jack's future body has been dormant for so long that it's decrepid. Of course, as the movie progresses it becomes clear to Jack that maybe it shouldn't be him in the capsule, for as soon as his wife goes back 'up the line' to the future (i.e. the conventional way, back to your future body), she's about to die. What kind of future is that? Meanwhile, there's still lots of fun to be had watching Jack slick his hair back and shoot trancers, while watching both his wives argue over who his actual current wife is. And then there's that issue of trancers, what the hell are they? How do you become one? How can you have a 'trancer farm'? And also, how can Jack's wife's ancestor's teenage body go through to the future, isn't she supposed to give birth to her own ancestor? Unless she was a teenage mum before the trancer farm incident, in which case where's the baby?
Oh, rather than ask questions of continuity mere mortals can't really answer, let's focus on the film itself. Whereas Trancers was a brilliantly fun mid-80s rip off of Blade Runner with time travel (back to 85 - cheap!) that was well structured and well delivered, Trancers 2 is fun but for all the wrong reasons. To label the production turgid might be a little harsh, but when you look at the two the sequel is laughable compared to the original. And to be honest the buck stops directly with Charles Band. Gaping plot holes aside, the biggest issues with Trancers 2 are the budget, the half-arsed action sequences, and the ridiculous over the top use of close-ups.
You know in B-movies you have no name actors coming up and big name actors heading down? And how, the actors heading down often do their lines with extreme close ups, to cover up the fact that they had to retake that scene several times to hide how drunk the actor was? (I'm thinking of Jan Michael Vincent in Xtro 2, Jo Cotton in 70s/80s Italian cinema, etc) Well, Charles Band has a habit of using close ups all the time. It's very disorientating, especially when the backgrounds are way different to whats behind the actors in the panned-out group shot, or when there's only two actors and they're side by side, but we still get extreme close-ups (again with different backgrounds). Still, at least we get to admire the decent job they did on Helen Hunt's teeth since the last movie. When she's around that is - she's not as prominent as in the first film as she can already smell Hollywood around the corner and is desperately trying to get out of doing this stupid low budget rubbish.
Once you're over (or have accepted purely on comedy value) the extreme close-ups, it's not long before the rest of the movie unravels itself too. The plot is pointless, the inclusion of his (hot teenage) wife is bizarre, and the whole time capsule thing is ludicrous, especially considering it still works fine even though it's lost a door. Worse, though, is that you can't help feel that Jack has lost a bit of his Jackness, particularly in the action stakes. The shootouts in this film are almost insultingly bad - at one point you see Jack jump out of a car with guys training guns on him, he lands, pulls his gun, looks up and then the bad guys start shooting. And the final shootout, involving a metal trailer on a farm yard, makes you check the running time. Oh, 85 mins? It'll be over soon then.
Great original, laughable sequel we can't recommend unless you like bad films as much as we do. And we do, so this film will be in our minds for a long time. Look out soon for a review of the third film in the series, Trancers 3, in which Jack Deth gets a hair cut.