Painkiller Jane (pilot)

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“It’ll probably be the audience who need the painkillers to get through this tedious tale.”

This SciFi Channel original movie is based on a comic-book series, but makes some radical changes to the storyline, though the basic idea is intact: a woman becomes immune to injury after the usual mysterious something happens to her [radioactive spider bite, barrel of toxic waste – the usual graphic novel contrivances, in other words]. In the comic, she was an undercover cop; here, she is a Special Forces soldier in Chechnya who is exposed to an experimental biological agent. Naturally, she subsequently finds herself much sought after, by both good and bad factions, since she’s the first to survive the treatment.

And initially, this isn’t so bad, as she escapes from the military, encounters a gentlemen thief and his posse of sidekicks, and tries to get all her mental ducks in a row, so she knows who to trust. As a set-up, it’s fine, with its share of paranoia. However, the longer this goes on, the less interesting it gets: you’d think having a heroine who is virtually immortal, would lead to almost non-stop mayhem. Not here. The action here is very limited and when it does appear, is simply boring – unfortunately, there’s no other word for it.

Now, I know this was intended as much as a pilot for a project TV series as anything, and they have to keep their powder dry for future episodes. But unlike, say, Chameleon, there’s precious little here to make me want to watch, should they decide to bring it back. Indeed, I fell asleep as the “gripping” scene at a shopping mall unfolded. For any action film, that’s about the kiss of death, and while the performances aren’t bad – Vaugier as our heroine has a nice attitude that reminded me of Yancy Butler in Witchblade – there wasn’t nearly enough meat on these bones to satisfy me…

Dir: Sanford Bookstaver
Star: Emmanuelle Vaugier, Tate Donovan, Richard Roundtree, Eric Dane

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