Plucky hackers save the world in 'Lawnmower Man 2'

January 17, 1996|By Stephen Holden | Stephen Holden,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

"Twenty-five minutes to global interface," a computerized voice announces in "Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace," a peppy if silly special-effects movie that imagines a countdown to cyber-Armageddon.

As the clock ticks, it becomes increasingly likely that the world will be controlled by a virtual reality technology so sophisticated that it accesses all five senses and can kill people. Pulling the strings is Jobe (Matt Frewer), the vindictive cyber-demon who was presumed dead in an explosion at the end of "The Lawnmower Man," the surprise science-fiction hit of three years ago.

In the sequel, Jobe is resurrected by a ruthless businessman named Jonathan Walker (Kevin Conway) and his associates at a sinister corporation called the Virtual Light Institute. Using an advanced computer chip perfected by Jobe, Walker plans to link all of the world's computers into a virtual reality network under his control. Walker doesn't reckon on the fact that Jobe has his own plans to take over and make the real world so horrific that billions opt for a virtual reality alternative.

"Lawnmower Man 2," which opened Friday, is a hybrid of action-adventure thriller and videogame, in which a group of adolescent computer hackers and Benjamin Trace (Patrick Bergin), the retired inventor of full-sensory virtual reality, race against time to save the world. Darting around a futuristic Los Angeles on motor scooters that can fly, these plucky whiz kids are so indomitably cheery that they seem much more mechanical than the aspiring cyber-messiah who tries to destroy them. At least he has a temper.

'Lawnmower Man 2'

Starring Patrick Bergin, Matt Frewer

Directed by Farhad Mann

Released by New Line Cinema

Rated PG-13 (violence)

* 1/2

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