Replicant (2001)

Genres - Action, Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi Action  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Those expecting another action movie from the second teaming of director Ringo Lam and Jean-Claude Van Damme will be disappointed by this slow, clumsy thriller, which exhibits little of the energy or excitement of Lam 's Hong Kong work. Despite having Van Damme's name above the title, Michael Rooker's Jake is the protagonist, with "the muscles from Brussels" dividing his time between a long-haired serial killer and his short-haired "replicant" counterpart. Because it's a Van Damme vehicle, there are a few scenes of hand-to-hand combat, but the majority of the movie is the familiar story of an on-the-edge cop trying to stop a gimmicky serial killer. What would seem to set Replicant apart is that the cop's partner is a clone of the killer himself, but the concept of cloning is used merely as a device to put Van Damme in dual roles. The dubious concepts of "genetic memory" and telepathy between clones are introduced almost reluctantly, since further explanation would reveal that they don't make any sense, at least not as presented here. It's also never explained why an anti-terrorist agency would help find a non-political serial killer or why Jake is so interested in the killer in the first place. Unanswered questions and silly ideas like these would be more acceptable in a Van Damme action flick with plenty of fight scenes, but the catch-the-killer genre has a harder time sustaining itself on a faulty premise. The absurd setup starts the movie off on the wrong foot, and it never recovers its believability. Van Damme is effective in his nearly dialogue-free portrayal of the simple-minded replicant, hitting notes of sadness and confusion that are too good for a movie of this caliber. But he's less successful in the serial killer role, mostly since the character gets so little screen time. To its credit, the movie doesn't linger too long on the details of its murders, and the villain isn't overly glorified as in most serial killer movies since Silence of the Lambs. All of this doesn't make Replicant a good movie, just a bit better than it could've been.