I have to admit that "Replicant" succeeded in surprising me quite a few
times, which is surprising itself since I wasn't ready for any surprise
in a direct-to-video-van Damme-movie. But this movie is not like your
average van Damme-stupidity. In some way this is good, in another way
it is not.
What I was hoping for was 90 minutes of fun that makes me laugh very loud the way "Double Team" or "Streetfighter" managed to do. I was afraid of seeing 90 minutes of boring stupid action with only few unintentional laughs, like "The Quest" or "Knock Off". "Replicant" walks on a thin line between those extremes.
Well, it is the third movie in which van Damme appears in two roles at the same time and it is a strange record for an action star. At first we see the bad guy, a serial killer with long hair who kills mothers by killing and then burning them. He does this because his mother used to call him "bad boy" and once almost burned him alive. Michael Rooker plays the cop who tries to catch the killer and the movie sometimes suggests that the killer also plays the typical "serial killer-movie game", in which the killer seems to kill just for the cop who chases him. But this is just a sidenote in the film whereas it is a major point that Rooker is very obsessed in finding the killer. Where this obsession comes from is never explained and this contributes to a lot of the weird aspects of the film.
One day after Rooker again managed NOT to catch the killer some government guys approach him and make an interesting offer. They want to clone the killer and try to catch him with the memories of the real killer in the clone's brain (that's what I think is their plan). The way the "clone"-thing is introduced must be seen to be believed. We never get the feeling that the movie plays in the future and neither the science guys nor Rooker as the cop make a big deal of simply cloning another person for an investigation. When Rooker is told about the clone idea his reaction does not exist. He simply accepts not questioning for a mili-second what is going on. Even more strange is the fact that the government guys even think of trusting Rooker to take care of the clone. And for no reason at all Rooker uses this trust by deceiving them time after time, by refusing to cooperate but these "National Security" guys never mind at all. Neither do Rooker's relatives and partners who very very rarely wonder why he has a new pet and why it looks like the serial killer everyone's looking for?
It may seem strange to go into such deep plot discussions but the movie plays so seriously that it's hard not to do. That's the weird thing here: the film only scarcely tries to go for cheap effects and shortcuts. For a van Damme movie the action is very rare and except maybe two scenes not very spectacular.
And then there is van Damme's performance as the clone. The clone, who is never referred to with any name, seems like a mixture between a retard and Jackie Chan. He hardly speaks, looks bewildered and confused but can also swing himself around pipes a dozen times, jump around like a monkey and fight like a karate dog. I'm not quite sure where he has the fighting abilities from and why they developed so much better than his thinking abilities. To say the least, it is an interesting performance but it also produces some laughs especially because of the way Rooker treats him.
Rooker has the strangest character here, being obsessed with a case for no reason, cruel to the only person who can help him and sometimes very stupid. For example when he first hunts the killer and simply lets him drive away while dozens of policemen in police cars arrive and he simply doesn't mind telling them that the killer has just been around the corner one second ago.
There are a lot of strange things in this movie but most of them work somehow and make it actually very entertaining. An action scene with an ambulance is both ridiculous and effective. A scene with the clone spending time with a prostitute is not working at all and feels contrived and unnecessary. Some things are simply unexpected, for example the cruelty of the killer when he is not actually killing. He shoots innocent bystanders for no reason and in a scene in a hospital his violence becomes comic-like when he kicks nurses and hits wheelchair patients with the ambulance. In one scene Rooker has to throw his weapon away because he is threatened to get killed and for no reason he throws it in a bucket of blood. Later the clone has to fetch it out of there. And there is a scene in the killer's apartment that questions his motivation, the logic of computers and plot and the the abilities of the clone.
"Replicant" is a B-movie, that is for sure, but in an unexpected way it is a good one, entertaining, not too much over the top and somehow still convincing. Nevertheless the final scene gets a big laugh for its unbelievable silliness both in plot logic and music choice. And why we see that picture during the end credits is beyond me. Don't expect another "Double Team" but don't expect anything else.
Action / Sci-Fi / Thriller
Action / Sci-Fi / Thriller
Jake Riley is working on the "Torch" case, a psycho serial killer, who kills women with kids and sets them on fire after they are dead. The killer calls Riley sometimes and now, that Riley retires, the killer has no person to play against anymore. The NSA comes into play here and offers a job to Riley. A replicant, or better a clone of the killer should help him find the real one, as kind of test if it works out. Now Riley is back on track, with a clone of the killer at his hand on the way to discover that nobody is born as murderer.
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September 01, 2015 at 10:50 PM