Action Movie Fanatix Review: Mutant Chronicles

The 28th Century.  The Darkest Age Has Yet To Come.

Starring: Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, John Malkovich, Devon Aoki, Sean Pertwee

Director: Simon Hunter

2008  |  101 Minutes  |  Rated R

“I’m not paid to believe, I’m paid to fuck shit up.” – John Mitchell Hunter

As a young Action Movie Fanatic, I had briefly played a collectible card game that took place in this Mutant Chronicles universe.  Yes, I know, I was a huge nerd but when this movie came out I had completely forgotten about it but just knew that something seemed so familiar.  After a bit of research I remembered that phase of nerdom and decided I had to track down this movie.

In 2707, there are four world corporations that run the entire world and all of them are at constant war over the limited remaining natural resources.  When a giant seal is destroyed during one of these battles a mutant army is released.  A squad of soldiers is put together to descend underground into the lost city to destroy the source of the mutants.

I believe that Steam Punk would be a pretty accurate way to describe the look of Mutant Chronicles.  Much of it has a very World War II look except with much heavier firepower.  The entire look of the film is very unique.  The vast majority seems to have been filmed in front of green screen.  The sometimes iffy special effects are excused because the overall look of the entire film has a dreamlike quality to it, similar to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow with more of a nightmarish tone.

The world that is created is very believable.  It easily pulls you in from the very first second it is on the screen.  The war ravaged cities, the greedy corporate soldiers, the skyscraper churches – it all works together to form this great retro/futuristic world.

My biggest complaint about Mutant Chronicles is that it just doesn’t live up to its full potential.  This huge immersive world is created only to send our troops underground.  We have an incredibly interesting back story with the warring corporate factions but that story is soon forgotten once the mutants show up.  Even though it seems that some huge storyline opportunities were missed here the story we get is good enough to justify the ensuing action.

Thomas Jane is someone who seems like he should have had more roles like this by now.  He was generally very well received in The Punisher even though I didn’t think that he fully embodied the character.  He seems like a natural fit as a badass but somehow he hasn’t had too many roles like that since then.  I know he is on Hung and that obviously takes some of his time but I would still like to see more of him mowing bad guys down.

Ron Perlman seems to always bring it as does John Malkovich.  Both do a great job here though Malkovich only has a small part.  Everyone else is more or less in the background compared to Jane, Perlman and Malkovich.  No one stands out as being really great or really bad compared to these three.  No shame in that really.

The action gets going right from the start.  The movie begins in the trenches akin to World War I.  Just as this bloody battle between two warring corporations is getting going a horde of horribly disfigured mutants is unleashed and they just start ripping everyone up.

Now, these mutants are hella tough to kill.  So, basically the humans are getting their asses handed to them at every turn.  On their first outbreak the mutants make short work of two full armies and the only reason anybody survives is because they hopped on an aircraft and got the hell outta Dodge.  We are eventually told that the only ways to kill the mutants is by explosions, a barrage of bullets or with swords.  SWORDS?  What the hell?  You can shoot them 20 times and they might still be alive but if you stab them with a katana they are done.  Oh well, I guess I will have to suspend my disbelief when dealing with mutant hordes.

All the action is nice and bloody.  The only downside is that the vast majority of the blood is done with CGI.  The blood effects are really bad and the red color of it is way too bright.

I really enjoyed the world and the story that Mutant Chronicles presented.  It is something very unique and entertaining even if it didn’t realize its true potential.  The action is exciting enough for me to forgive some of the shoddy effects.  Mutant Chronicles actually should have gotten more attention than it did, I can see a lot of people getting a lot of enjoyment out of it.  I know I did.