- Written and Directed by Steven Lovy and Robert Lovy
- April 1994
In the polluted future, an FBI agent gets the pleasure unit Danner out of an insane asylum to hunt down the villainous Plughead who is behind a new kind of chip.
Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II is a little-known sequel to the slightly better-known yet little known Circuitry Man. Once again, the plot involves illicit microchips and the villainous criminal Plughead (Vernon Wells). Danner (Jim Metzler) and Leech (Dennis Christopher) return for this film as their respective characters without missing a beat.
Beany (Paul Willson) and Squid (Andy Goldberg), the two police officers from the first film, return for this sequel but do not do much of anything to move the narrative along. They have absolutely no connection to the story even though they are brought in to track Leech and his new sidekick Rock (Nicholas Worth) when they escape from a prison…somewhere. I expected them to intersect with all the central characters in the finale in a similar way that they did in the last film but no. I am left with the feeling the producers or directors thought that the film was just too short and brought them back for a little padding. It would not be the first time something like that happened.
Tracy Lords joins the cast as Norma, another FBI agent that gets swept up into Plughead’s schemes with the offer of allowing her to have a child. Certainly not a plot point that would fly today nor one that felt like enough to make someone do bad things in 1994. Yet here we are. Though not given much, she holds her own in her scenes and does a good job.
Danner, now referred to incessantly as “Circuitry Man” by so many unlike in the first film, has placed himself in an asylum having been unable to cope with his reality. That reality being that the love of his life was a lie placed in his mind and he could not make it work with a real person, Lori (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), either.
This time around Danner is tasked by an FBI agent oddly named Kyle to track down Plughead who is creating life extending microchips. How that works I do not know but who cares? Logic was not exactly strong in the original so why here?
Eventually it is revealed that Plughead’s plot is to use his connection to these life extending microchips to control the minds of all the power brokers that have one. Plughead has really upped his game! It is also revealed during this film that Plughead was part of a series of psychoanalytical androids that were eventually scrapped. All but him anyway. During the first film I thought he was completely human.
Leech is much more front and center here than he was in the last film. Previously he was a significant character, but I dare say he got promoted to main character based on the amount of time he is on screen. He is hot on the trail of Plughead to steal those valuable life extending chips (I think). He knows Plughead has chips but whether or not he knows what these do until the finale is fuzzy.
Michael Worth plays Leech’s sidekick Rock who is a former billionaire that lost it all and went crazy. You may not know the actor’s name, but you will definitely recognize the face. Though he never had much screen time in any one particular project, his unique appearance and ability to make the most of the parts made him memorable.
The twist in the story is that this is all an elaborate plan by Plughead to get the plans for a DNA strand from Danner’s mind that Plughead placed there years ago when they first crossed paths. Plus the extra trick of making the FBI agent that recruited Danner look like the woman from Danner’s memory. There is never an explanation exactly why she was named Kyle though they tease that one would be coming in some form.
At times this film can be comedic to the point of being satirical. It lacks the retro looking science fiction environment that the first film had. The last was like Blade Runner on an extreme budget it its use of old looking stuff mixed in with futuristic gear.
Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II is still an entertaining mid 90s direct to video romp though. It has a surprisingly good script and better than expected acting from those involved. Plus you have Vernon Wells (from Commando as well as the second Mad Max film) returning as the villainous Plughead. Plughead is all wild and crazy and that is what Wells specialized in.
This film nor its predecessor were high art. These were not meant to be groundbreaking. They are just fun and enjoyable. The people behind this ask you to sit back and relax and enjoy yourself. This is an imaginative bit of low budget filmmaking. But more importantly, despite its low budget, it does not look extremely cheap. They put a serious effort here and that helps to give it a lift.
Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II is nothing special, but it is an enjoyable nothing special. You will have a good time. I will give this an if you want only because movies of this type are of an acquired taste.