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Anatomy 2

The Anti-Hippocratics are back with their scalpels drawn in "Anatomy 2," a no-holds-barred, thoroughly generic follow-up to the medical horror-chiller that wowed German wickets in 2000. With the original's writer-director, Austrian Stefan Ruzowitzky, on board again, but with a new cast, this one goes straight for the jugular rather than slowly building atmosphere, signaling ancillary action offshore rather than theatrical play, beyond midnight fest slots. Since opening on home turf Feb. 6, amid heavy publicity and with a huge (for a German pic) 700 prints, business has been good but not boffo, and looks like lacking the original's staying-power.

The Anti-Hippocratics are back with their scalpels drawn in “Anatomy 2,” a no-holds-barred, thoroughly generic follow-up to the medical horror-chiller that wowed German wickets in 2000. With the original’s writer-director, Austrian Stefan Ruzowitzky, on board again, but with a new cast, this one goes straight for the jugular rather than slowly building atmosphere, signaling ancillary action offshore rather than theatrical play, beyond midnight fest slots. Since opening on home turf Feb. 6, amid heavy publicity and with a huge (for a German pic) 700 prints, business has been good but not boffo, and looks like lacking the original’s staying-power.

German cinema has little tradition of sequels, but here Ruzowitzky – following his English-language action flop, “All the Queen’s Men” – has taken the path often pursued by U.S. filmmakers after the birth of a new franchise. In much the same style as, say, “Predator 2” went a lively, B-picture route after the original, “Anatomy 2” wastes no time in backgrounding or the slow burn, and takes its cue from a new location.

Set this time in hard, new Berlin rather than scenic, old Heidelberg, pic opens with a full-tilt pre-credits sequence in which an evidently disturbed young man (August Diehl, guesting) slices himself open at a ritzy reception honoring a surgeon, Prof. Mueller-LaRousse (vet Herbert Knaup, in demonically smooth form). The prof, it seems, has been abusing his status as a renowned medical researcher.

Story proper starts with a young guy, Jo (Barnaby Metschurat), leaving his depressed hometown of Duisberg to enroll as an intern in Mueller-LaRousse’s bastion, Gross Klinik Berlin. Film rapidly sketches his early days, as an eager beaver working all hours, as well as his friendship with a Chinese-Filipina intern, Lee (Rosie Alvarez), whom he helps out by performing some illegal surgery one night.

Jo’s ambition hasn’t gone unnoticed by Mueller-LaRousse, who starts courting him to join his inner circle of super-achievers, dubbed the Anti-Hippocratics for their refusal to be limited by the traditional ethics of the profession. “Rules are for wimps,” says the prof (quoting the movie’s tagline), who insists that success is everything. He also reassures Jo that his group has nothing in common with the nasties who were earlier exposed in Heidelberg.

Jo yields to his own ambition, and especially the persuasion of Mueller-LaRousse’s devoted disciple, Viktoria (Heike Makatsch, all bright-eyed and blonded), who, in a very sexy sequence, basically rapes him in an operating theater. Soon, Jo is a gung-ho subscriber to Mueller-LaRousse’s latest project, which involves synthetic muscle implants to create the perfect, super-athletic Ubermensch. What’s more, all the human guinea pigs are from Mueller-LaRousse’s own followers, who are so bombed out by drugs, steroids and self-conviction that they willingly take part.

Where the original pic was a creepy parable for the covert rise of neo-Nazism, “Anatomy 2” is pure genre nonsense, played with glee by its cast — especially Knaup, Makatsch, and Roman Knizka as a bespectacled member of the group — and decorated with enough scalpels, needles and hemoglobin to furnish a vampires’ convention. (It’s not a movie for people who squirm at the thought of an injection.)

Up-and-coming young actor Metschurat is just right as the young provincial who starts with stars in his eyes and only later sees the light when his invalided brother (Hanno Koffer) is used as a test case. Alvarez is quietly charismatic as Rosie, the voice of common sense, and original star, Franka Potente, is in for a couple of scenes as a woman dedicated to curbing the onward march of the Anti-Hippocratics in Germany.

Pacing is smart and tech credits are ultra-slick, with Andreas Berger’s widescreen lensing overdosing on cold, steely surgical colors and original composer Marius Ruhland turning in a big symphonic score with occasional Wagnerian refs. A coda sets up the possibility of a sequel.

Anatomy 2

Germany

  • Production: A Columbia TriStar Germany release of a Deutsche Columbia Pictures Filmproduktion presentation of a Claussen & Woebke Filmproduktion production. (International sales: Col TriStar, Culver City/Berlin.) Produced by Andrea Willson, Jakob Claussen, Thomas Woebke. Directed, written by Stefan Ruzowitzky
  • Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Andreas Berger; editor, Hans Funck; music, Marius Ruhland; art director, Ulrika Andersson; costume designer, Nicole Fischnaller; sound (SDDS/Dolby Digital), Manfred Banach, Max Rammler-Rogall; sound designer, Dirk Jakob; special effects supervisor, Eileen Kastner-Delgado; special effects co-coordinator, Gerd Feuchter; effects co-coordinator/make-up, Henrik Scheib; casting, Nessie Nesslauer. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (German Cinema), Feb. 10, 2003. Running time: 101 min.
  • With: Jo Hauser - Barnaby Metschurat Prof. Mueller-LaRousse - Herbert Knaup Viktoria - Heike Makatsch Hagen - Roman Knizka Gregor - Wotan Wilke Moehring Sven - Frank Giering Willi Hauser - Hanno Koffer Kurt - Felix Kramer Wulf - Sebastian Nakajew Lee - Rosie Alvarez Dr. Schinder - Joachim Bissmeier Manni/Fred - Boris Pietsch Paul Henning - Franka Potente Dr. Bamberg - Rosel Zech Benny - August Diehl