After defeating Robert G. Durant once again, Dr. Peyton Westlake and his monstrous alter-ego, Darkman, return once more to save the world from another diabolical criminal scheme. Capping off the trilogy, Darkman III: Die Darkman Die is a step up in quality from the second film, but unfortunately still isn’t a patch on Sam Raimi’s original. Is it worth your time? Let’s figure that out!
First off, we’re sadly still saddled with a subpar script and mostly bland direction. If you are coming into this hoping for much of the trademark Raimi flair of the original, outside of a few short visions, you aren’t going to find it. There’s also the disappointing fact that, once again, Westlake is no longer portrayed as partially insane. As in Darkman II, he is mostly calm, collected, and reserved. A refined Darkman, if you will, with clean vocals and none of the gravely-voiced histrionics that made Neeson’s turn in the original film so iconic.
I feel sorry for Vosloo, as he certainly has the ability to chew scenery. John Woo’s Hard Target comes to mind. I really wish he has been turned loose in both of these films, but if wishes and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas. Perhaps this can be corrected if Universal ever revives the property and whatever new actor they saddle with the part can go crazy (literally!) in it. Until then, I’ll be over here pining for the mad monster version from the original, as opposed to the reserved dude from the failed TV pilot and the sequels.
So what DOES work? The story is a little more interesting this time, if for no other reason than the fact that it isn’t so tied to the first like the last one. Having Jeff Fahey play the villain, crime lord Peter Brooker, certainly helps liven things up. So does his plot to create a sort of super-steroid narcotic drug to make millions off of on the streets. Using Darkman’s blood to create the serum, he basically invents an addictive super-soldier as a means to financial gang (sports organizations will go gaga for it!), as well as to beef up his own armed thugs. There’s also his diabolical scientist who has her own designs for the drug and a pesky D.A. that he wants out of the way. You know, the usual.
To be honest, the film is only entertaining in spurts. Those few moments tend to revolve around the always-reliable Fahey and the few hyperkinetic “Darkman visions” present in the film. The rest of its running time is rather rote. It amazes me that even though the sequels are shorter than the Raimi film (this one is almost 10 minutes shorter), they both feel a lot longer than it. They just drag too much for their own good and lack a since of urgency, even in the middle of some action sequences.
Is Darkman III worth your time? Probably not, but if you are ever in the mood to explore this property beyond the still-wonderful original film, this is the sequel to go with. It has no narrative ties to Darkman II, so you won’t be confused if you jump in without seeing that tepid film. Overall, my final recommendation is that you simply revisit the original and leave it at that. Perhaps someday Sam Raimi will help revive this property with a good sequel or reboot. Until then, at least we have the madness of Liam Neeson in the original film to keep us company.