Playing at Select theatres and on VOD
I can recognise shades of the cult movie Universal Soldier in Michael Winnick‘s Dark Asset, a science fiction cum conspiracy film about an ordinary soldier who gives up his life in order to be turned into a programmed killing machine. It’s almost like Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. But instead of making humanoid clones with biochip implants where when a coded signal activates them to fulfil General Order 66, here, the idea is more about augmentation and brainwashing.
When the story reveals Dr. Cain (Robert Patrick) is key to making these super soldiers–normal guys and girls who will activate to fulfil a mission after a signal is sent, I was curious. He plays very questionable characters extremely well. I loved him in The X-Files, and that was this film’s best selling point for me.
But in truth, this film focuses on a former special forces soldier (Byron Mann) who is willing to give up his life to become something else. But when he changes his mind during his programming, it’s up to someone to chase him down and return him to the chair to finish what Cain started. After he finds a computer to hack into in order to escape the facility, he discovers that there are others like him who are now out in the wild. And he makes it his duty to free them so they don’t suffer like he had.
However, his plan isn’t perfect. Much like how Clone Force 99 from Star Wars: Bad Batch are still being hunted after defeating their programming and having their own solo adventures while still being hunted, this film doesn’t quite hit the same level as that animated series. As for how well John can survive as he reconstructs his life, that plot point seems uncertain.
As for the women (Helena Matteson) he finds at a bar, there has to be a reason he’s telling her his life story and seeing them click, like two lovers. That’s because he’s trying to validate all that transpired in the past 24 hours. Although nothing is said about this woman’s identity, the show and not tell technique went fast where I wondered what was being hidden from viewers. The main story about who can gain their freedom in Dark Asset is easy to figure out because of all the flashbacks that are revealed. Although they feature other ‘augments,’ John’s narrative tells all.
Thankfully, there’s some low-fi martial arts style moments to give this film some excitement, and that’s enough for me to give his film an above average grade.
3½ Stars out of 5