DARKMAN (Sam Raimi)


DARKMAN is old school comicbook hero, but Sam Raimi's protagonist in his first major Hollywood outing is not just any hero- he does not fight for any moral cause but rather for revenge for what some evil bastards did to him, namely disfiguring him and burning his lab to the ground just when he's about to crack the secret to synthetic skin technology.

Basically a revenge story, we get to see a very magnetic Liam Neeson as a man descending into madness for his physical appearance, and at the same time we are entertained by the face imitations that will later be copied by MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 and FACE/OFF (or not). Neeson can be bright and breezy, then turn mad scientist all of a sudden. He has that talent for improvisation.

For me, what makes DARKMAN effective is Raimi's decision to keep DARKMAN rooted to reality. He has no superpowers. He cannot fly. His power comes from an insatiable need to right wrongs, and because of that he is unstoppable. Towards the ending, when Peyton (Neeson) realizes he still needs to fix a lot of things with himself before he can begin a normal relationship with his former flame (Frances McDormand), we get a fresh treatment of how comicbook films end. The ending is indefinite, and it should rightfully be. It provides more enigma for DARKMAN. 

You might notice the high rise construction site climax scene in DARKMAN as reminiscent of Raimi's SPIDERMAN 3 about a decade later. Just a heads up.  

My only negative comment here is as to why female love interests are always used as bait to lure the protagonist out? Oh well. At least Raimi knows how to tell a story with a sense of humor. 

RATING: 4/5

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