If you’ve ever witnessed his performances in films like The Haunting (1999), Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, and, more recently, Clash Of The Titans, you might think Liam Neeson is the kind of guy that phones his roles in and collects a rather meaty paycheck afterward. The same theory can also be appled to director Sam Raimi, who lost most of his reputation after helming the hugely successful but utterly terrible Spider-Man 3.
Should any of you doubt the validity of either Neeson or Raimi, however, this would be the ideal time to revisit their only collaboration together, 1990’s Darkman, which is now available on Blu-ray from Universal Studios.
Those of you who have never seen Darkman at all, on the other hand, are doomed to die a thousand deaths. There’s a special place in Hell for you: one where they force you to watch The Haunting and Spider-Man 3 on a daily basis. Shame on you. This is required viewing, dammit.
Apart from having made the much-hated box office bomb Crimewave, Sam Raimi was really only known by horror aficionados for the first two Evil Dead films when Darkman rolled around. Originally, Raimi had wanted to make an adaptation of The Shadow, but the rights were unobtainable at the time (Universal did eventually create a big-screen adaptation of The Shadow in 1994 starring Alec Baldwin, and it failed miserably — serves ‘em right).
Undaunted, Raimi chose to create his own superhero character instead. The result was Peyton Westlake (Neeson), a good-natured and noble scientist who is working on a new form of synthetic skin.
While his creation has proven to be successful, it isn’t perfect. His synthetic skin only lasts about ninety-nine minutes in any form of light before it disintegrates. And, so, it’s back to the drawing board for the good doctor. Meanwhile, Peyton’s girlfriend Julie (Frances McDormand) has come across evidence of a bribe made by her employer, Louis Strack, Jr. (Colin Friels): a memorandum that could seriously jeopardize Strack’s aspirations to turn the crime-ridden cesspool of a city into a bright new mega-city of the future.
Somehow, word of the memorandum gets out, and local mob boss Robert G. Durant (Larry Drake, in his finest performance apart from Dr. Giggles) invades both Westlake’s life and career to retrieve it.