On Romulus, members of the Romulan Senate are debating peace-terms and alliance proposals from the rebel leader Shinzon (Tom Hardy) of the Remans--a slave race in the Romulan Empire exiled to the darkness of the planet Remus. A faction of the military supports Shinzon, but the ruling Praetor and Senate oppose him. After rejecting his terms, they are disintegrated by a hidden device.
The crew of the Enterprise are saying goodbye to Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), who have just been married. They detect a strange energy reading near the Romulan Neutral Zone. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn), and Commander Data (Brent Spiner) land on the planet involved and discover the remains of an android named B-4, who appears to be an earlier model of Data.
The Enterprise is ordered to Romulus on a diplomatic mission, because Shinzon has taken over the empire and appears to desire peace with the Federation. Shinzon is discovered to be a clone of Picard, secretly created by the Romulans as a spy, but abandoned to slavery on Remus. Eventually, he became leader of the Remans and built a ship called Scimitar, which is now producing low levels of Thalaron Radiation. It is also trying to communicate with the Enterprise computers, and Shinzon probes Troi’s mind through his telepathic Viceroy (Ron Perlman).
Doctor Crusher (Gates McFadden) learns that Shinzon is aging rapidly and must have a transfusion of Picard’s blood. Shinzon kidnaps Picard and B-4, but Data has switched places with B-4 and rescues Picard. They now see that Scimitar is planning to invade the Federation Worlds and eradicate all life with the Thalaron Radiation Generator.
Enterprise heads back to Federation space at high warp but is ambushed by Scimitar. Two Romulan Warbirds come to the aid of Enterprise, but it is heavily damaged. Picard, desperate, rams Scimitar and both ships are crippled. Shinzon begins to activate the Thalaron weapon. Picard boards the ship and kills Shinzon. The Enterprise transporters are damaged, but Data leaps the distance through space with an emergency transporter, beams Picard home safely, and then sacrifices himself to destroy Scimitar.
The crew mourn Data, and the surviving Romulan commander expresses gratitude for their having saved the Romulan Empire. On Earth, Picard says goodbye to Riker, who is leaving to command the Titan. Picard meets with B-4 and discovers that Data had downloaded much of his programming into the android, who begins to sing the song Data sang at Riker’s and Troi’s wedding.
The film was directed by Stuart Baird, written by John Logan, Brent Spiner, and producer Rick Berman. Baird and Berman were looking for a 25-year old version of Patrick Stewart. They rejected Jude Law as too well-known, as well as James Marsters (Spike on Buffy) and Michael Shanks (Doctor Jackson on Stargate SG1) and hired Tom Hardy for Shinzen. His Viceroy, played by Ron Perlman, was named Vkruk and was inspired by Count Orlok of Nosferatu. It’s always wonderful to see Ron Perlman in anything.
Kate Mulgrew appears as Kathryn Janeway, Wil Wheaton and Whoopi Goldberg are along as wedding guests. Wesley Crusher will be part of Captain Riker’s crew on the Titan, but all his lines were cut, and his only appearance was in one corner of the wedding scene. Everyone drinks Chateau Picard wine at the wedding. Many scenes of character interaction were deleted to make room for fights, space-battles, and--believe it or not—a car-chase, putting a lot of actors’ noses out of joint. Michael Dorn was upset that Worf had basically nothing to do for the entire movie. Some scenes were restored for various video versions.
The ships that are to back up the Enterprise are Intrepid, Valiant, Galaxy, Aries, Nova, Hood, and Archer. Jerry Goldsmith composed the music, his final movie score. Jonathan Frakes was not asked to direct. He says he would have said yes. Levar Burton offered to direct and was turned down. Rick Berman, basically, was ordered by Paramount to hire Stuart Baird as director. The cast blamed him for the movie’s woes. He knew nothing about Star Trek: The Next Generation. He thought Geordi was an alien because of his eye-implants and kept calling Levar Burton Laverne. Marina Sirtis, in her usual way, called him an idiot.
The film was released in competition with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, James Bond’s Die Another Day, and the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which did not help. Its Rotten Tomatoes score was just above The Final Frontier. Hardy was nominated for a Saturn Award but lost out to Andy Serkis for Gollum. The failure of the movie, and perhaps Internet Trolls, resulted in Hardy’s failed relationship, alcoholism, and attempted suicide. It was not a success with critics or the fans, proving false the theory that all even-numbered Star Trek movies are great. The next thing you know, the entire Star Trek Universe was rebooted by J.J. Abrams.
Nevertheless, you can still enjoy the movie. The action scenes that pushed out the character interaction the cast and fans wanted are pretty damn good, and the accompanying music is great. Tom Hardy was powerful and tragic as Shinzon, Patrick Stewart acquitted himself as usual, and Marina Sirtis as Troi was a joy to watch. The ships were gorgeous. The Enterprise is, I think, one of the best versions ever designed, and the Scimitar was fabulous, like an enormous Lionfish bristling with poison spines. Brent Spiner played an interesting double role and got the noble death he wanted. Some of the character scenes could have been kept without slowing down the action too much, it seems to me, and it is only Paramount who insisted on the movie being less than two hours long. It was the last Next Generation movie and I’m pretty sure most of us would have sat through another fifteen minutes of it.