Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is on the verge of realizing a major breakthrough in synthetic skin when a gang, led by the sadistic Robert G. Durant (Larry Drake), obliterates his laboratory. Burned beyond recognition and altered by an experimental medical procedure, Westlake attempts to rebuild his laboratory and reestablish ties with his former girlfriend Julie (Frances McDormand). But his most challenging task lies within himself. Torn between his desire to create a new life with Julie and his quest for revenge, the man known as Darkman begins to assume alternate identities in this stunning, fast-paced action thriller from director Sam Raimi.
When attorney Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand) uncovers corrupt city real estate dealings, evil thugs attack her scientist boyfriend, Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson). Left for dead after his lab is detonated, he miraculously survives when the ensuing blast hurls him into the nearby harbor. Treated as a John Doe at a city hospital, he is unknowingly submitted to radical therapy which numbs his nerves to feeling--but which heightens his strength and his emotions. Once conscious, Peyton escapes from the hospital and builds a ramshackle lab in an abandoned industrial plant. Horribly burned and scarred by the lab explosion, he uses synthetic skin to impersonate his would-be murderers and seek retribution for their evil deeds. Peyton also tries to reunite with Julie, who believes him to be dead. While the film has an average script, it is overcome by the flashy cinematography of Bill Pope, the bombastic score by Danny Elfman, and the well-choreographed direction of Sam Raimi. The director confidently walks the line between suspense, action, comedy, and romance as he examines a bitter, victimized antihero who risks becoming as monstrous on the inside as he appears on the outside. --Bryan Reesman