This was the tenth Star Trek film, the fourth with the Next Generation cast, and the last prior to J. J. Abrams reboot. So, in some sense, this was the film that exhausted the cinematic possibilities for Star Trek with members of a TV show as the central figures. But, all in all, this is far from the least impressive of the bunch. Final Frontier is exactly the travesty you remember (if you had the misfortune of seeing it). Insurrection made the mistake of being of too small a scope, and also a little boring. And Into Darkness had some remarkable story flaws.
No, Nemesis falls into that middle ground where the film is imperfect, but filled with interesting ideas. Think Search for Spock, or The Motion Picture. That level of quality.
As is the case with every Next Gen film, there has to be an A-plot for Picard (Patrick Stewart) and a B-plot for Data (Brent Spiner). Here, these stories are more closely intertwined than ever, which is, in itself, pretty cool; both Picard and Data meet their respective nemeses. For Data, this is a heretofore unseen Soong-type robot with the too-on-the-nose name of B-4. He’s kind of an ur-Data, identical in appearance, yet less advanced in programming. He’s something of a child. They run across him on the way to another rendezvous, and no one thinks that maybe activating him would be a bad idea. (It is a bad idea, but, as I remember, his impact on the rest of the movie is insignificant. Annoying.)
That rendezvous is with the new leader of the Romulan Empire. This leader, Shinzon (Tom Hardy) is from a heretofore unseen planet called Remus. (Aw. Isn’t that cute? Another Roman history name check in an alien race. I guess they can get away with that because this is all translated, and not actually transliterated, from the Romulan language. Anyway.) Unlike the weird bat-like native Remans, Shinzon is an adopted human! And, more interestingly for the plot of the film, he’s actually a clone of Jean-Luc Picard.
Now, this seems like an insane coincidence, but having the Romulans try to clone Picard to get up to some of their usual shenanigans is entirely reasonable, given their history. (Having said clone rise from exile to the leader of a galactic empire is somewhat less reasonable, but what are you going to do.) After Beverly Crusher verifies he’s really a clone of Picard, Gates McFadden cashes her check and gratefully takes of that wig. Her importance to the film is over.
This meeting between DNA-brothers leads to some of the best stuff in the film, as Stewart and Hardy face off in a discussion of opportunity and circumstance and the nature of identity. But then it sort of devolves into your standard sci-fi action stuff. And some of it is fun. Shinzon wants to drain Picard’s body of life-giving DNA-matched blood! Picard rams the Enterprise into Shinzon’s vessel! And some of it is annoying. Riker (Johnathan Frakes) throws down with Shinzon’s viceroy (Ron Perlman!) because he’s been basically mind-raping Deanna (Marina Sirtis).
The signature moment of the finale is Data sacrificing himself to retrieve Picard from the Romulan ship. I’m all for killing off signature characters (see Wrath of Khan) unless you do it poorly (see Into Darkness). They did not earn this death. It felt like Brent Spiner trying to get out of doing any more movies. And then they even deflate that goal by implying that B-4 might become the new Data at a later date.
This was a better outing than Insurrection, but it’s still not a huge surprise that Paramount felt the need to go in a different direction for the eleventh Star Trek film.
Tom Hardy was in Star Trek: Nemesis with Jude Ciccolella. Jude Ciccolella was in…