Friday, September 22, 2023

Dark Asset, Starring Byron Mann and Robert Patrick

Sometimes, "super-soldier” programs turn out great, like with Captain America and sometimes they create monsters, as in Universal Soldier. The chip implant “John Doe” received definitely follows in the latter tradition. Even though he has the latest revised software, “Doe” still goes rogue anyway in Michael Winnick’s Dark Asset, which releases today in theaters and on-demand.

The nefarious Dr. Cain hoped to show-off Cain’s augmentations to a visitor from “the agency,” but it is clear Agent Wilds has both ethical and practical reservations, even before “Doe” pulls off an incredibly violent escape. Apparently, the former Special Forces guinea pig managed to change his passcodes and Cain’s augmentations helped him do the rest.

Even though Cain’s financial backers, including the criminally bland former Senator Benson, have dispatched their early, sexier female “super-spies” to liquidate Doe, he still takes the time to chat up Jane in a hotel bar. In fact, he will tell the skeptical business traveler all the dirty secrets of Dr. Cain’s organization. Frankly, it is hard to see how he would know about so many other super-spies’ backstories, but he does. Regardless, you have to wonder why he thinks his crazy yarn will seduce the super-model looking woman. She can’t help wondering herself.

The basic premise is certainly familiar, but Winnick and co-scripter Terri Farley-Teruel try to dress it up with the pick-up line flashbacks. It is a little too cute and the twists are a bit too obvious. However, it is fun to see action genre vet Byron Mann get a starring role. He always has action cred, but it is also amusing to watch him smirk and charm his way through the courtship scenes with Helena Mattsson, playing Jane.

Of course, Robert Patrick is dependably villainous as Dr. Cain. Sen. Benson isn’t much, but Sabina Gadecki has a few decent action scenes as Cain’s femme fatale assistant, Vivian. However, this film could have used a colorful martial arts rival for Doe to face, in addition to the faceless conventional soldiers he plows through.

Winnick tries to execute
Dark Asset with a bit more style than the typical straight-to-VOD action movie, which is admirable, but the storyline is very much the same-old-same-old. That is a shame, because Mann really proves he can play an engaging leading man, with a knack for sarcastically humorous dialogue. Fans who know him from Street Fighter, Wu Assassins, Man with the Iron Fists, and dozens of others will want this film to be better than it really is. Just not good enough to recommend, Dark Asset opens in select theaters today (9/21) including the Galaxy Mission Grove.