Scanner Cop

  • 1994
  • 1 HR 34 MIN
  • NR
  • Action, Horror, Science Fiction

An intriguing blend of David Cronenberg's scanner concept with traditional police action, SCANNER COP handles its sci-fi elements with more assurance than its crime narrative. Rookie officer Sam Staziak (Daniel Quinn) is a scanner, possessed of telepathic and telekinetic abilities; he's been taking the drug Ephemerol to repress these powers ever since...read more

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An intriguing blend of David Cronenberg's scanner concept with traditional police action, SCANNER COP handles its sci-fi elements with more assurance than its crime narrative.

Rookie officer Sam Staziak (Daniel Quinn) is a scanner, possessed of telepathic and telekinetic abilities; he's been taking the drug Ephemerol to repress these powers ever since his scanner father was killed in a standoff with police. When seemingly ordinary citizens begin killing cops, Sergeant

Peter Harrigan (Richard Grove) encourages Sam to use his abilities to solve the case. Sam is at first resistant, but agrees to co-operate after his partner is killed. When he scans the memories of Pratt (Gary Hudson), the only cop killer still alive, the nightmarish vision he receives unnerves

him. Pratt subsequently commits suicide, but Sam resolves to press on.

An autopsy on Pratt uncovers tiny puncture marks in his head, and police psychiatrist Dr. Alden (Darlanne Fluegel) suspects that the killers were given injections that turned them homicidal. Another officer is murdered by his own wife; when Sam scans her, he finds she has a phobia of insects and

saw her husband as a huge bug when she attacked him. It soon transpires that Glock (Richard Lynch), a mad neurosurgeon seeking revenge against the police, is abducting people with his assistant, Zena (Hilary Shepard), and programming them to see cops as the embodiment of their fears.

After an attempt on Harrigan's life, Sam tracks down Zena and scans her to discover Glock's whereabouts. Sam arrives at the villain's hidden lab only to be captured; he's unable to scan Glock due to a metal plate in the mad doctor's head. He manages to set the room ablaze and frees himself as

Glock escapes. Glock poses as the surgeon overseeing Harrigan's operation, but Sam confronts him and scans the plate right out of Glock's head, killing him.

The genre-blending notion behind SCANNER COP makes such obvious commercial sense that it's surprising that it took over a decade after the original SCANNERS for this film to happen. And it's refreshing that some solid craftsmanship went into its making. Pierre David, making his directing debut

after a long producing career that includes the original SCANNERS, clearly cared enough to make a movie that stood on its own (or at least was good enough to warrant launching a franchise). His direction is well-paced, if a tad on the formulaic side, and he creates an empathetic hero in Sam, ably

played by Quinn. Writers George Saunders and John Bryant Hedberg, working from David's story, have come up with a reasonably complex script that adapts Cronenberg's original concepts without trashing them.

If the film has a major flaw, it's that Glock isn't given enough screen time. Though Lynch brings his dependable creepiness to the role, most of Glock's heinous acts are committed long-range; as a result, the film fails to create the desired tension leading up to his final confrontation with

Sam. And there's a bit too much emphasis on the police procedural scenes, which are pretty much standard-issue; the movie works better when concentrating on the scanning action and Sam's torment over whether to allow his abilities free rein. Nonetheless, SCANNER COP works as a solid exploitation

item and proves that there's still life in the scanner concept. (Graphic violence, adult situations, profanity.)

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