The Phantom of Revenge
Scientist Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is working on a way to create synthetic skin, something he has achieved except it ends up breaking down after 100 minutes. But when the vile Robert G. Durant (Larry Drake) and his goons attack Peyton they not only destroy his lab and his research but leave him with horrific burns which have melted away most of his face. Fuelled by a need for revenge Peyton takes on the alias Darkman and uses some cobbled together technology to not only recreate synthetic skin versions of his own face but also those of Durant and his goons as he sets about getting revenge.
With a hat and cape he flees a volley of gunfire like he was the Phantom of the Opera running across a gantry. He talks to himself as he tries to make science work like he was Victor Frankenstein and peers out from his filthy bandages like he was a mad scientist's mutant creation filled with self loathing over what he looks like. Yes the character of scientist Peyton Westlake/ Darkman is a creation of Sam Raimi's which you can clearly see has been drawn from characters in older movies and it works as with Liam Neeson behind the make-up and bandages he manages to give him the complexity of being a nice guy but one who as obsessive side as well as a burning rage when it comes to his desire for revenge. Yet the irony of "Darkman" is that Larry Drake as Durant is more memorable because of one thing, his character's use of a cigar trimmer to chop of people's fingers which he collects.
In truth "Darkman" is one of those movies which when you watch, with its uncomplicated story of a scientist looking for revenge, is certainly entertaining but it isn't one which you think or remember later unless some one mentions it or you watch it again. It is because it is that simple, that unpretentious that the only thing the movie and director Sam Raimi is concerned about is delivering entertainment in the moment. And in truth it is refreshing because revisiting "Darkman" in an age of comic book movies, which look to make some sort of impact in order to pave the way for a sequel, to watch some thing similar which is just about the entertainment rather than character depth and mystery is refreshing. Basically whilst the character of Darkman was a creation which could and did appear in more movies the storyline in "Darkman" is nicely self contained.
What this all boils down to is that "Darkman" is just some simple entertainment which draws on old movies when it comes to the central character, has a self contained storyline and enjoyable performances. But for me the joy of "Darkman" is that whilst it is entertaining no matter how many times you watch it, it isn't a movie which leaves you thinking about it or the characters.