A film about a brilliant scientist, who survives an attempted murder, and is left horribly burned. He seeks out those who did this to him for revenge.
Is Darkman a simple revenge story? On the surface, yes, but there is more to Darkman underneath. The characters breathe more life into the story, the actions of our hero, and how he changes throughout the film.
Peyton Westlake, our main hero, is a scientist who is working on synthetic skin to help burn victims. The skin can’t last more than 99 minutes in the light, and finds out that in the dark it doesn’t dissolve. Peyton is unfortunately as the result of a misunderstanding is attacked and is horrifically burned and his lab and work is destroyed in an explosion. After surviving and having his Spinothalamic tract cut, so he no longer feels physical sensations, to treat the pain of his burns. He gains enhanced strength, but a side effect is mental stress, the body starts to “crave” some form of sensory input, so it turns to the only thing it can feel, emotions; this side effects amplifies his emotions to the point of mental instability.
Peyton uses his brain, rebuilding his lab, and trying to create a new skin for himself. He uses this in creative ways, allowing him to get closer to his enemies. What I truly like about Peyton, is even after he gets his super strength, he is still a scientist and uses his greatest weapons – his mind. He uses his wits, disguises, acting, plans ahead and tricks his enemies; when it comes down to a fist fight, he’s not shy to fight, but he puts physical fights after his plans.
The love interest, Julie, has strong feels for Peyton, still accepting him after all that has happened. Even Peyton for a moment doesn’t believe that Julie will accept him if he shows her his true face, but she does, maybe in that moment Peyton can’t accept himself after what he has become, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. It was great seeing a love that was deeper than originally portrayed at the start.
Peyton starts to know he is changing, and what worries him more is what he’s becoming inside. Noticing that his rage is causing him to lose sight of his goals. He tries to remind himself that he is a scientist, and that his emotions shouldn’t rule his mind.
There are times where you can see where the plot is going, in the end scene you know what is happening, and when the villain of the film speaks a line, you know it’s a trap, something to see if it’s really him or an imposter, showing the villain to be smart enough to spot Peyton’s methods.
The film is an enjoyable darker superhero film, it gives us moments of action, horror, and comedy in a similar way to Raimi’s “Evil Dead”. It shows the story of a man who is struggling to deal with what he’s become in his story for revenge, and love.