-- Dr. Paul Ruth (played by Patrick McGoohan)
I think some of my frustration with the flick is that so very, very, very many of the young men I grew up with praised it like it was the Second Coming for oh so long before I did get to see a complete cut of it. I had seen snippets of it here and there -- on cable, edited for television, etc. -- but a complete screening just escaped for a long time. Naturally when something is positioned so high on a pedestal I think it's hard for that reputation to be matched ... and I say this regarding productions of any genre, not simply Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. My mates had elevated this one to sainthood, and I figured going in that it wasn't going to happen.
(For those interested in knowing my full take on it, my review can be found right here.)
Now, I will say this: I think the lion's share of Scanners' reputation in all of filmdom is honestly owed to a few keys scenes. The script -- as conceived and directed by David Cronenberg (a talent I've honestly been hit-or-miss with anyway) -- doesn't exactly break new ground as we've seen secret conspiracy organizations trying to do both good or ill behind-the-scenes for the better part of three, four, or even five decades. Setting that aside -- along with some reasonably good acting from a talented cast -- I'd still argue that what matters most is those -- ahem -- mind-blowing pyrotechnics brought to an all-new level of 'boomity' by Cronenberg and his technicians. (For those wanting the straight skinny on how those shots were achieved, the Criterion Collection release explores it to great effect in their 'making of' shorts. It's quite vivid.)
Over the years, the film became a bit of a snowball, forever rolling down a hill, picking up weight and momentum as it plundered on its way; and I think the biggest recipient of that progress had to have been Cronenberg. While he wasn't exactly new on the scene with the picture's release, I think this one definitely caught the attention of an awful lot of industry types. Clearly the man had a vision and he had the skills and knowhow to deliver something compelling on the silver screen, so it was natural that bigger and broader projects followed this one ... so at the very least film nuts like myself should be thankful for that.
Here's the plot summary as provided by the good folks at IMDB.com:
"A scientist trains a man with an advanced telepathic ability called "scanning", to stop a dangerous Scanner with extraordinary psychic powers from waging war against non scanners."