If you haven’t seen a Nemesis movie, let me get you up to speed and share with you my thoughts on the franchise.
The Nemesis franchise is made up 4 movies: Nemesis, Nemesis 2: Nebula, Nemesis 3: Prey Harder / Nemesis 3: Time Lapse, and Nemesis 4: Death Angel. After the first film the original protagonist, Alex Rain, is replaced by a woman who shares the name Alex Rain. The overarching theme of the films is that there is an android oligarchy, and Alex Rain somehow stands in the way of them tightening their grip on the humans. Death Angel deviates from this model, but postulates that the war is over.
Nemesis opens with a great action scene where an LAPD cop is running away from rebel cyborgs through Los Angeles. Besides the good action, I assumed this cop was completely human and we would get a Robocop-esque scene where they rebuild him. I was surprised that it turned out he was already a cyborg. It was fresh to see a character that was already a cyborg and avoided that cliché. Also Brion James, who played Leon in Blade Runner, plays a minor character in the first film.
The rest of the movie’s opening introduces us to the story’s plot, which is pretty cliché. Alex is contracted for one last job by his old boss, and it turns out he has been hired to retrieve data vital to the resistance. Most of the movie is set on a tropical island, Shang-Lu. Once there, Alex joins the resistance and is hunted by androids bent on killing him and the rest of the rebels.
There is some great cyberpunk imagery throughout the first movie. The movie’s initial framing scenes take place in ruins of Los Angeles, and a brief scene in Rio De Janeiro which has neo-noir feel. The androids have hidden eye guns, and look cool when blown apart. We get occasional glimpses of Alex’s cybernetic implants, including the removal of his eye to disable remote surveillance that the androids have imposed on him. Alex’s contact, Julian, on Shang-Lu ends up being a computerized personality, complete with memories, that resides in a small hand-held computer that Alex has to carry with him throughout the film.
Nemesis 2 introduces us to a female genetic mutant who was named after the Alex Rain from the first movie, therefore also called Alex Rain. The premise of the second movie is basically Terminator. Alex is sent back in time as a baby to protect her from the android oligarchy, where her mother subsequently is killed and she is raised by an African tribe. Then, when she is an adult, the android Nebula is sent back to scan and kill her. The movie is basically just a shoot em up otherwise. Nemesis 3 is basically the same plot as two, except that now there is more than one android searching for Alex, and we learn that she has sisters that are also genetic mutants, but apparently not as awesome as her. More explody death, and Alex takes a time ship back to the future.
Nemesis 4 takes place after Alex has been back in the future for awhile, and the rebellion has overthrown the androids. Alex is now a contract killer. This movie is definitely the weirdest of the franchise, and has a gratuitous amount of nudity. Basically Alex is setup, kills the wrong target, and then is hunted by other contract killers, half of which she has sex with before she kills them. The cyberpunk imagery in this one is stronger. There is a weird sex scene where Alex and a colleague have sex via cybernetic sex organs that don’t resemble a penis and vagina, and are instead connected to their belly buttons. Also nipple blades are definitely a thing.
Decidedly the least cyberpunk aspect of the Nemesis franchise is that there is a lack of urban setting. In Nemesis most of the action takes place on a tropical island, whereas Nemesis 2 and Nemesis 3 are both set in Africa. Nemesis 4 does break the mold and is set in a crumbling city in Eastern Europe, mostly one city block. I wasn’t too excited about the Nemesis sequels, they aren’t very good, but one aspect hung in my mind that I liked. Sue Price, the woman who plays Alex in the sequels, is actually a body builder. She is a cool, strong female character that defies gender stereotypes in Hollywood. In fact, during the time she was working on these films she won a number of body building competitions.
The first Nemesis film is definitely worth a watch, but I would skip the sequels. The fourth one is full of cyberpunk weirdness on par with some of the Japanese extreme cyberpunk like Tetsuo: The Ironman, although not as jarring. So if you’re interested in that give the fourth a look, but you don’t need to see two and three to get what is going on.