Director Michael Winnick tries his hand at recreating the ‘super-soldier’ genre with his newest movie, Dark Asset, starring Byron Mann, Helena Mattson, and Robert Patrick, among others. It follows a nameless individual who becomes insanely strong after he’s made a superior being thanks to a chip in his brain and then turns against his creators. The plot isn’t new, and we’ve seen multiple versions with the same script, so does Winnick bring anything exciting to this movie? Here’s a detailed recap of Dark Asset, along with an honest review at the end.
Who’s John Doe?
Dark Asset opens with a man sitting in a glass chamber as some important-looking people observe the experiment happening from outside. Dr. Cain (Robert Patrick) explains the experiment in detail, saying the test subject is John Doe (Mann), and a chip has been inserted in his brain, making him a superior version of himself. Funded by a US Senator named Benson, this program aims to create super-soldiers who will be faster, stronger, and deadlier than regular agents, and they’ll also receive several perks, including x-ray and thermal vision. However, while the experiment is underway, John Doe’s chip suddenly malfunctions, making him start attacking all the soldiers and the researchers in the room. As Dr. Cain casually slips out of the room, the remaining people are either killed or knocked out. Interestingly, John doesn’t harm people who surrender but goes berserk on the special forces who try to take him down. He then starts shooting his way out of the laboratory, killing multiple soldiers.
Where does John arrive?
With the facility’s entire military strength busy looking for John, he hacks into the system’s mainframe and makes his chip immune to the kill switch installed in his brain. He also tries sending out a message, but apparently, it’s blocked by Cain’s people. The next time we see John, he’s cruising down a deserted road in a white Lamborghini, and he pulls up outside a fancy hotel. His x-ray vision detects a beautiful blonde woman (Helena Mattson) in a red dress, and he offers her the Lamborghini he drove in, just so that he can talk to her. The woman identifies herself as Jane, and soon, John begins telling her a strange tale of how he’s a super-secret spy with super-human strength and what he’s doing here.
What Was the Program About?
John explains how a powerful senator’s funds helped create a program of human engineering. A team of researchers led by a head doctor would find test subjects and try making them into super-spies. The initial few test runs weren’t exactly very successful, with most of the operatives going rogue and acting on their own. This meant finding more subjects and investing a lot more resources and efforts into perfecting them. John describes how multiple agents succeeded and failed in varying degrees, indicating that the chip hadn’t yet been perfected, while Jane remained incredulous. Finally, after a long list of the deaths of agents and their targets, John arrived at how he was recruited into the system. He was a soldier, and serving the country was his passion. When a woman named Vivian met him, she convinced him to join the program and be a lot better than he already was. However, when his chip and brain sensed that if he wasn’t up to the mark of the team’s expectations, he’d be killed, John Doe took off, but he ensured that nobody would follow him.
What Is the Big Reveal About Jane?
However, John’s mission wasn’t over. He met a former spy who handed him a USB drive with critical data regarding the program. From there, he found another spy and planned for her to arrive at a particular location. By then, Jane shares a bit of her own life; she’s a clerk stuck at a boring desk job, and the only reason she’d come to the hotel was because she had to meet a woman in this city for a meeting. She was waiting for her contact to show up, and when the meeting would be done, she’d retire to her hotel bed and sip wine till she’d fall asleep. Here’s where John corrected her a little, saying that Jane indeed came to the hotel to meet Senator Benson as an escort. However, just as the two were getting physical, she unsheathed a knife from her stockings and stabbed the senator to death, followed by his bodyguard. She then hid the bloodstains, dragged the bodies to the washroom, and headed downstairs for a quiet drink. Jane is shocked to learn she’d done such things, more so because she can’t recall any of them. John helps her jog her memory, saying it was him who’d sent her the invitation to come to the hotel and that it was fruitless waiting for the woman who was supposed to meet Jane because nobody of that name existed.
How does the shootout end?
Freaked out, Jane bids a stern farewell to John and heads to the washroom, where she can feel her fingers shaking, just as John had experienced in the very beginning. A blonde woman comes and stands next to her and offers her a taser lest the “crazy guy” try harassing Jane again. Incidentally, it’s the same taser Cain handed to the newest arrival, saying it was the only way to incapacitate John’s chip and thereby fry his brain. Jane comes out of the washroom, and moments later, John joins her, but the woman who follows them is the blonde from the bathroom, along with Cain’s top researcher. John identifies the blonde as Vivian, who’d recruited him, as a row of special forces members file in. A shootout begins, although John kills them with elegant ease. He’s disappointed to know, however, that Jane has sided with the researchers, and in the end, Jane and Vivian point their weapons at him. He wishes Jane “good luck” and shoots the researcher, while Jane tases him.
What Happens to John Doe in the End?
John’s body is strapped to a surgical table, and Cain announces that he’s totally brain dead, having his chip fried. However, they shall retain his body for further study and understanding of how to develop the following agents. He turns to ask Jane, who was also an agent, what John said to her before he was electrocuted. She replies that he’d wished her luck, confusing the doctor because John believed luck had nothing to do with a procedure; only good planning was needed. Jane agreed and shot Vivian dead. To the surprised doctor, she said that John had added that the program would be alive as long as Cain survived because he’d find funding one way or another. Dark Asset ended with Jane killing Cain with a bullet.
Is John Doe Alive?
John presumably doesn’t wake up from the comatose state Jane put him in, but with the final shot, it’s guaranteed that this inhumane experiment is done for good. With Jane being the only agent who survived, the program to turn people into super spies with the redundancy of killing them by activating a kill switch in their brains had been terminated. Cain’s mad scientist-like reign had come to an end, and Jane was the only winner in the end, without any more enemies left and a brand-new Lamborghini to celebrate.
Dark Asset tries its best to be another addition to the sci-fi super-soldier franchise of the “Universal Soldier” genre, despite having a poor script and meager budget. Everything from the computer-animated headlines to the CGI screams poor budget, and the story severely lacks coherence. With the scenes cutting in and out of the hotel scene and the various spies and their adventures, it’s hard to feel this is anything more than an overly long exposition. The director has John deliver the entire plot as a conversation only 5 minutes before a climax, which shows the lack of better ideas to deliver the same idea. The initial story follows the same line of man with a chip in his brain going rogue,’ but it fails to herald the successes of its predecessors. Overall, it’s a poorly made movie on a skimpy budget, and you’d not miss out on much if you chose to skip it.