- The Washington Times - Friday, December 13, 2002

"Star Trek: Nemesis" plays a kind of double-or-nothing gamble. The new film, the 10th in the feature line of descent and the fourth that relies on principal cast members of the erstwhile "Star Trek: The Next Generation" series, is full of valedictory hints and impulses anticipated in the advertising tag line: "A Generation's Final Journey Begins."
The implicit loophole, of course, is that the final journey might not necessarily terminate with this installment, although another reunion would require some clever explaining, not to mention a few new faces.
Departures and farewells are kind of conspicuous in "Nemesis." It would seem a little much to exploit their poignancy on this occasion only to suffer a big memory lapse in order to retrieve the status quo. A selection from columns B, C and D that is, the casts of "The Next Generation," "Deep Space Nine" and "Voyager" seems the likeliest alternative for the next "Star Trek" movie expedition.
The doubling theme is exploited most coherently with Brent Spiner, who collaborated on the story with screenwriter John Logan and producer Rick Berman. In addition to playing the admirable and resourceful android Data, Mr. Spiner appears as a simple-minded relic android called B-4, discovered in a disassembled state on an arid and hostile planet.
Data, Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart, of course) and Lt. Cmdr. Worf (Michael Dorn) are diverted there for dune-buggy chases after intercepting a "positronic signal from the Kolarus System." The scattered parts of B-4 are reassembled on the Enterprise, and this "Dopey Data," as he was fondly known by the company, serves as a sometimes comic and sometimes wistful contrast to Data's advanced state of consciousness and capability.
The crew of the Enterprise has been called to a peace mission on the planet Romulus, considered a known enemy of the Federation. Things don't go as expected, and the plot twists and turns.
Picard is confronted with a more hostile form of his resemblance in the villain, or nemesis: Tom Hardy as a young warlord called Shinzon, whose Napoleonic personality was forged in Reman captivity during a traumatic youth. He is a clone of Jean-Luc Picard, but much the worse for nurture rather than nature. The Remans, who are related to the Romulans, have been subject to oppression.
Mr. Hardy, the intriguing young British actor cast in the role, had small parts as soldiers in "Black Hawk Down" and "Band of Brothers." While cinched tightly into a costume that accentuates Shinzon's seething uptightness and essential physical vulnerability, Mr. Hardy plays him as a kind of sincerely evil offspring of Dr. Evil.
I'm not sure the doctor would really welcome such ruthless competition within the family, but Mike Myers would have reason to feel flattered by the affinities.
Stuart Baird, the veteran English film editor who made a belated but proficient shift to directing with "Executive Decision" and "U.S. Marshals," obviously enjoys more stylistic freedom on the Scimitar, Shinzon's battle starship, than the Enterprise.
The novelty of the former allows him and the other scenic collaborators to play around far more perversely and picturesquely with settings, costumes, makeup and generally sinister entertainment value.
Getting in on the writing process was a very astute move on the part of Mr. Spiner, who makes what should be an ironclad case for Data as one of the Immortals of the Federation. Mr. Stewart, a recent celebrity recruit to auto racing, gets to drive like a daredevil across dunes and around the interiors of starships, but he plays a decisive second fiddle to Mr. Spiner as the indispensable heroic spirit of "Nemesis."
If this is the end of the line for the "Next Generation" team, it will be impossible to surpass the best single effort of their tenure, "Star Trek: First Contact" in 1996. However, there's enough invention and gratification in "Nemesis" to leave the old franchise looking fairly seaworthy at this turning point.

**Two stars
TITLE: "Star Trek: Nemesis"
RATING: PG-13 (Sustained ominous atmosphere; occasional violence in a science-fiction adventure context; a fleeting interlude of sexual menace)
CREDITS: Directed by Stuart Baird. Produced by Rick Berman. Screenplay by John Logan from a story developed by himself, Mr. Berman and Brent Spiner. Cinematography by Jeffrey L. Kimball. Production design by Herman Zimmerman. Costume design by Bob Ringwood. Makeup design by Michael Westmore. Special-effects coordinator, Terry Frazee. Visual effects supervisor, Mark Forker. Music by Jerry Goldsmith
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes

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