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After finding what appear to be payoffs to the government to allow development of a new complex, Julie Hatings (Frances McDormand) puts herself and her lover, Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) in danger. The men who made the payoffs want the evidence back and they’ll do anything to get it, including destroying Peyton’s laboratory and killing him…or did they?
Peyton survives but his hands and face are badly burned, he rebuilds his lab in the hope of finding the solution to his breakthrough prosthetic skin, which currently disintegrates after ninety-nine minutes. Although now unable to feel pain his emotions are heightened and this can make him incontrollable. Can he perfect his formula and win back the woman he loves?
When Sam Raimi couldn’t get the rights to “The Shadow” he developed and wrote ‘Darkman’, a sort of super-hero movie in a time well before “Spider-Man“. Watching the film you can easily tell that this is a Raimi movie, not only for the Bruce Campbell cameo and Oldsmobile but the special effects are so Evil Dead, so Raimi. Sadly they can’t save this movie from being terrible.
Fans of Raimi would struggle to find much positive to read from Darkman, for it really offers nothing memorable. The plot struggles along and suffers from some really terrible acting from its leading man, Liam Neeson is better than this. If you need further proof, how about his desperate cry out for “Julie!” not once but twice, each as lame and unemotional as each other.
We are also shown every time Peyton wants to go into a Hulk-esq rage, a close up of his eye exploding and the cells inside his head brimming with anger. There is no need, the narrative already explained that he was unstable, we don’t need to be spoon fed every time he does something that might tip him over the edge.
The make up on Peyton is one of the better things about the film, sure the mouth and teeth looks like something out of “Evil Dead” but the burns and scars look almost more real than those featured on Harvey Dent in “The Dark Knight“! This is what probably gives the film its 18 certificate because other than this, the film is incredibly lacklustre.
Overall Darkman may have been Raimi trying to step away from his “Evil Dead” moniker, but the touches he brings to the film only serve to remind us that he’s best known for his iconic horror. Perhaps this gave him a slight insight for the future when he went on to direct a real super hero and did a much better job at it.