For a science-fiction gimmick dabbling in cloning and symbiotic mnemonic cortices, the most fatuous element is Van Damme’s Tommy Wiseau wig. The neonatal technology for cellular duplication is sketchy and preposterous. Is The Torch so notorious that the NSA would experiment with such a financially exorbitant gamble to pursue him? How can the replicant recollect the Torch’s home invasions via osmosis?
If you’re going to belabor on such inquiries, Replicant isn’t your derring-do de jeur. However, if you can omit such contrivances, Replicant is a rip-roaring archway that cantilevers Van Damme’s transition from box office dreck to low-budget fare that tinkered with his acting spectrum.
Ringo Lam eclipses the hamstrung DTV foibles with nearly cataclysmic action scenes (a car in reverse narrowly squashing a shoe off of Michael Rooker’s stunt double and an ambulance chase is pretty goosebump-inducing as well). Along with some adrenaline-surging footwork, Rooker creases his forehead and barks at the doppelganger as if he were cast in a prestigious Christopher Nolan film.
Furthermore, in his third outings with dual roles (after ‘Double Impact’ and ‘Maximum Risk’), Van Damme capably bifurcates between the unscrupulous serial killer and the lemur-like genetic xerox. The replicant is like an infantilized version of his fish-out-of-water Luc Deveraux character when he is reanimated in Universal Soldier. Like an adorable toddler, Van Damme naps during car rides and is curiously sightseeing in a helicopter. A premature ejaculation scene with a prostitute is unusually poignant.
While he is the central predator, The Torch’s role is somewhat fleeting. Regardless of the length of the appearances, it is a corker to watch Van Damme be malevolent. The pugnacious fights between the two Van Dammes are convincingly spliced together through over-the-shoulder angles and balletic stand-ins.
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