Sunday, 6 December 2015

Replicant and happy endings - a rant

First of all, this movie should've been called "Stockholm Syndrome the movie" or "How to be an abuser - a visual guide"...

Replicant is the story about Jake Riley, favourite detective of serial killer "Torch" (Van Damme), known for murdering single mothers and torching their bodies with the child still in the house. After failing to capture him one last time, Jake goes into retirement, but is picked up by a clandestine government agency who are planning to clone terrorists, and have cloned "Torch" to use him as a test subject.
The Replicant (he's never given a name) is telepathically connected with his murderous source, and Jake is tasked with activating the latent killer in the Replicant, any way possible.

The tag line on my Bluray "Think twice before you clone a killer" is just blatantly lying about where the story goes. Actually, cloning a killer works pretty well, though making it a much darker and more uncomfortable movie than I expected.

The intro is ludicrous; exposition, extremely fast cutting and jumping to our main plot after 5 minutes, never even -trying- to defend its idiotic set-up, while the end is even stupider than anticipated, ending on the most unrealistic happy ending you would never guess.

Everything in between features naive, newborn replicant Van Damme being abused, manipulated and scared by his "daddy" - the supposed hero of our story, and struggling family man (maybe. We could never figure out if he was related to the fellow police officer/mother he keeps visiting. The kid called him "uncle", he sends his mother to stay with her, and yet, in a deleted scene, they were making out. O.o)
Jake might not be doing it on purpose (we weren't sure), but the way he treats the Replicant is basically a blueprint for creating a dependent - he ignores the Replicant, is overly violent, blames him for any tiny mistake, and just when he's ripped all the footing out from under his feet, he shows him just a little bit of kindness. (Rinse and repeat)
It's depressing, uncomfortable and sad, but not bad. Van Damme absolutely shines in this role, and every time his "daddy" gets angry with him it is heart-breaking to watch.

It's just that nothing else supports the amazing performance and moral lesson presented by Van Damme's Replicant. His serial-murder version is not especially fleshed out or interestingly played, Michael Rooker as Jake just phones in his role, the dialogue is incredibly ham-fisted and likes hammering its points home (while not following up on them. At all) the one-liners are weak and the Van Damme/Van Damme fight scenes are not on the quality level they should have been.

There's a scene in the deleted scenes showing Jake going back to his whatever-their-relationship partner's house and receiving a drawing from her son - illustrating him standing over the beaten up replicant (he brought the replicant to her house, because of course he did, handcuffed him in the basement, son found him, offered him a snack, came running out from the basement, mouth bleeding. Jake went ballistic and savagely beat the replicant - turned out the kid had knocked heads with the dog) which I understand why they cut (it was part of a larger scene with family drama), but really wish they hadn't, because it would have been the -only- indication in the movie that Jake's behavior isn't okey.

I was assuming the movie would be either funny-bad or forgettable, but it's neither, solely because of that replicant performance. It is sad, touching, heart-breaking, infuriating and meaningful, and the movie insults everything it is, it could have been, and its viewers with a bullshit ending that ignores everything that's happened to give replicant Van Damme a girl friend.

About halfway through the movie serial killer Van Damme finds out about his clone and starts manipulating him to turn against Jake because they're "brothers", so I was expecting the movie to end with replicant Van Damme having to choose between his "daddy" and his "brother", killing serial killer Van Damme to save Jake.

It doesn't.

What I wanted to happen was after we'd dealt with serial killer Van Damme and everything is over we enter Jake's house at night, Jake is on the floor, dead, while replicant Van Damme is sitting in a corner, crying, covered in blood.

That definitely doesn't happen.

What happened to bad endings? When did we decide that all movies, no matter what age rating, how dark the story is or what the movie is about shall end on a happy note, ham-fistedly inserted or not?
Some times a dark ending is more meaningful, more poignant, more likely to make an impact, and yet I feel I haven't seen a bad ending in.. 15 years?
Give me my unhappy, terrifying, heart-breaking periods back!

This was a story about a new-born clone given the genetic make-up of a killer, reliving every bad thing that'd happened to the original, every murder he'd done and even being telepathically linked to the guy while he does his deeds - all the while being abused and hated by the first, and only human he's connected with, and we still felt this was the perfect set-up for a nurture over nature ending?

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