July 12, 2008

ANATOMIE 2 (2003) - thrills but no chills

(2003, Germany, Anatomie 2)

A new way to build muscles...

Anatomy (2000) was
a stylish and unusual thriller. Stefan Ruzowitzky returned to direct this sequel, approaching the central premise of the first film from the other direction, rather than repeat himself. Instead of Heidelberg, we’re in a huge hospital in Berlin, here a young doctor is invited to join the inner circle of renegade surgeons.

The members of this secret society are experimenting on themselves with synthetic implants as well as performance-enhancing drugs. But it's not for the sake of life-saving advances in medicine, but to score academic prizes and lucrative drug patents. Also using methods completely against their codes of ethics, the foundations of their professions and the law. None of them can afford to get caught.

We follow the intern, Dr Hauser (Barnaby Metschurat), as he leaves his wheelchair-bound brother, who’s suffering from a muscular wasting disease, to go and work in the capital city. There's a cleverly edited montage as he starts his gruelling shift work in the casualty department.

But when he bends the rules to save the life of a little girl, he attracts the attention of the renegade researchers who think he might want to join their secret clique. The initiation test involves an overly thorough examination from Viktoria, in an echo of the bizarre sex scene in Anatomie.

The surgeons have used implants to enable each member of their inner circle to achieve different feats, while Viktoria excels at cocktails of medication to support the group’s various enhancements. They persuade Hauser to try implants for himself and his legs are tuned up - very useful when he's playing soccer. But while artificial super-powers are very seductive, it’s not a good idea if anyone changes their mind and wants out, and that's not the only catch...

Plotwise, this branch of the secret society was pretty slack in its methods and forever dangerously close to keeping its secrecy. No wonder Franka Potente (in a cameo role) wasn’t on their heels sooner.

It's an inventive story, but too unlike the first, making it a thriller with a little gore, less horror and less sex. Though there’s curiously still plenty of man-flesh on display. It’s fun while it lasts, but runs out of surprises by the end.

Anatomy 2 is on DVD in the US and UK from Columbie Tristar.

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