Cast: Vin Diesel, Guy Pearce, Elizah Gonzalez, Lamorne Morris, Talulah Rise, Tobey Kebbell, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson
Director: David S F Wilson
Rating : ****
Nothing is what it seems in this sci-fi actioner kick-started by debut director David S.F. Wilson as a promising new franchise about the Valiant Comics super hero who shot on the graphic novel scene in 1992. The globe trotting narrative revolves around heroic Marine Ray Garrison (Diesel) who is resurrected in a technology-enhanced indestructible personae after being abducted and killed with his beautiful wife Gina (Tallulah Rise) Or so it seems.
The latter day Dr Frankenstein is one Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) who embeds our superhero as a killing machine in an elite team which comprises KT (Eiza González), Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan) and Tibbs (Alex Hernandez).
They have all been refurbished/overhauled much in the manner of RoboCop though not to the extent that Garrison is. “Your body was donated to us by the US military since there were no claimants,” Dr Harting tells a flummoxed Garrison. What! No relatives whatsoever?
We will excuse the screenwriters Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer who could well have been inspired by Terminator, Jason Bourne, Universal Soldier, The Matrix and even Blade Runner for taking the plot of the comic book film further with twists the viewer may or may not see coming.
Let us dwell on flashbacks and memories returning in fits and starts with nightmares, and Garrison embarks on a revenge-fuelled mission.
Why? Why does revenge figure in very many Hollywood films as a pivotal factor instead of forgiveness and atonement? Is it because vengeance lends itself easily to violence and gore? Commendably, the director eschews gore to go full throttle on action, and book-ending the film with Michael Bayish pyrotechnics juxtaposed with some comic sights and gags mainly from Lamorne Morris as genius hacker Wilfred Wigans and Tobey Kebbell as baddie Martin Axe. Vin Diesel is in vintage form as the laconic, sensitive and heroic protagonist. Gonzalez is gorgeous. As for sequels, I say bring em on!