So how do you screw up a series created by Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada? Well, if you’re the Sci-Fi channel it’s not really all that hard. Just do it as un-creatively as possible. Take a comic book with a fan base and turn it in to a really stupid, really boring, and pretty bad action yawn-athon that felt like it could never end. Being a comic book fan, normally I’d be shouting at the sheer inaccuracies and liberties taken, but alas, I never read the series, so I’ll shout off on Sci-Fi’s horrible production qualities. “Pain” in the title has never been so accurate because that’s what this adaptation was: painful. There were no redeeming qualities, which is shocking considering it’s the Sci-fi channel and they’re now known for their quality films.
“Painkiller Jane” shamelessly lugs out everything you’d expect by this sort of entry without an inch of originality or innovation. I went in to this hoping for at least a respectable film, but all I received was another derivative action entry. Imagine “The Bourne Identity” cloned in to this stupid wannabe. And the song goes: a devoted soldier, a mission gone wrong, she gains super powers that are side effects of a disease which killed her troops, she becomes a puppet of repressive government, and cue disheveled superhero and vigilante running from the corporation that spawned her–y-a-a-a-awn!
Emmanuelle Vaugier who you may have spotted last as the crack w***e prostitute/victim in “Saw 2” is part time wooden and part time lifeless as Jane Browning, the girl forced to become this hero with a bad dye job and a smug grin that never leaves her face. And for a superhero “Painkiller Jane” sure does have stupid powers; I mean it’s like someone somewhere handed off leftover powers from some other big superhero or something. She can see things up close and from all sorts of angles, she can deduce strategy, and–well, she can heal super fast. That’s basically all she’s given. In one really boring scene she deduces in one swift move the result of a chess game–which will come in real handy when she’s fighting terrorists. The film is utterly bland, and for an action movie, it’s pretty damn boring. There’s hardly any excitement and whatever action that’s promised is basically fleeting with one fight in a helicopter that’s pretty much the height of what you’ll get, and there’s even a really bad CGI forest for some reason.
Was the budget so low they couldn’t afford an on-location shoot? Meanwhile, there are your usual array of characters: the shady mentor, the possibly traitorous confidant, the grizzled sidekick/love interest, and his partners: a young boy who never talks, and your token black character that spouts slang and references hip hop in every other line. Tate Donovan and Vaugier’s chemistry is forced and never interesting as they spout the usual lovey dovey dialogue back and forth all leading to the climax. I could have been a lot easier on this were it not such a blatant pilot for a potential series. The film is basically Jane’s origin and a lot of build-up to nothing but a cheap question mark ending that I was less than thrilled to see. What’s the point of making these movies anymore if they’re just ploys to start a new series? Why should the audience invest time?