Presumably due to the lukewarm reviews of his cherished SCANNERS II (1991) and SCANNERS III (1992) sequels, executive producer extraordinaire Pierre David decided to drop his beloved executive producer credit and trade it in for a producer-director credit. Typically an executive producer handles some of the financing end of the filmmaking process, often it is a screen credit simply given to investors, and rarely do they get involved in all of the creative aspects of making the movie, though they definitely can have some say in it (casting choices such as the significant other are always popular). David clearly took his executive producer title to a whole new level, notoriously butting heads with Cronenberg on the production of SCANNERS and the direction that the film should take. After obtaining the rights to SCANNERS, Pierre David decided he would do SCANNERS right and created two sequels that were successful on the video market, but ummmm... not exactly overwhelmed with praise. This just wouldn't do! As the saying goes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
Pierre David approaches his subject matter with such sincerity that you’d think he was making a sequel to THE MIRACLE WORKER (1962). As much as I hate self-referential films that don’t take the genre seriously, this takes itself very seriously while keeping its genre elements at arm’s length. There will be no wallowing in exploitation staples here, no, no! It's almost like he's going for a PG-13 rating. David doles out the goods in little bits and pieces and keeps the whole “scanning” thing down to a minimum with the occasional whammy being put on people but generally stopping short of causing any sort of mayhem, much less combustion. Even then he typically only uses it for positive problem solving, such as stopping a car theft or the scene where Samuel clutches a computer monitor and scans a computer police sketch program to make the composite of Glock’s mug faster, infuriating the sketch artist admin in the process. One wonders why, if this is so easy to do, when Samuel needs the elevator during a mad dash to stop a brainwashed killer, why he doesn’t just use his scanner powers to interface with the elevator and bring it rapidly down to his level? There’s nothing more snicker-inducing than watching someone with earth-shattering telekinetic powers impatiently waiting for the lift. John Carl Buechler provides the FX work, which is mainly the hallucinatory monsters (except, possibly, for the rapper). That is not to say that there is no bloodshed, but it’s basically limited to one scene near the end where in order for his spirit to escape from hell, Samuel must make someone’s spirit-head explode. Seriously, why was this never made into the greatest video game ever?
- Scanners can now “speed read”, allowing Samuel to fly through a stack of criminal files while searching for the, at that point, unknown villain.
- Getting shot in the shoulder will land you in the local ICU, in critical condition, complete with an oxygen mask.
- If you need to commandeer a car in a hurry, it’s preferable to stand there and scan the owner, forcing them to hand you the keys, rather than just grabbing them and jumping in the car.
- Police detectives gather together and smoke cigars to neutralize offensive odors while investigating a crime scene with a decaying corpse.
- While scanners can put the whammy on computers, they can’t scan someone who has a metal plate in their head, but they can cause the skin over the plate to melt!
While this never soars to the apex of absurdity reached by SCANNERS III and, of course, still doesn’t hold a freakin’ candle to the original, David’s directorial effort is still reasonably entertaining. David would give up the director’s chair for his favorite position of “backseat driver” for the next and final installment, SCANNER COP II (1995).