Mutant Chronicles: Disappointment after disappointment

I thought it was bad when I was seeing films that were adapted from video games. Then I saw Mutant Chronicles, which was adapted from a role playing game. So not good.

Mutant Chronicles takes place on some kind of 28th Century steampunk Earth that feels like it’s an alternate World War II. Corporations rule the world and spend all their time fighting, until they are unlucky enough to break open an ancient machine from space that turns human beings into zombie mutants with primitive scimitars grafted to their right arms.

What’s not to love?

In short order, these mutants, who are basically infantry, overrun the corporations’ infantry, who are equipped with machine guns. Which means the corporations pretty much suck, in my opinion, because how hard is it to mow down infantry with automatic weapons?

Corporate leaders decide to send as many people as they can to other planets, because Earth is totally fucked. Brother Samuel (Ron Perlman) belongs to a sect that has preserved the legend of the machine and he wants to go blow it up. Of course, he needs some badass military folks who don’t mind dying to come along for the ride. “Do you think they will stop with Earth?” he says, “No way! We need to fuck their shit up!” Constantine (John Malkovitch), one of the corporate lords, gives him a ship and some evacuation passes to use as bribes, and Samuel is off to collect his team.

Two of the team members are the reasons why I wanted to see this film in the first place: Devon Aoki (previously in D.E.B.S.) and Anna Walton (previously in Hellboy II: The Golden Army). So far, we’ve got two women in combat roles, and one of them is a woman of color. The other members of the suicide squad include Steve Toussaint (British, of African descent), Luis Echegaray (British, family is Peruvian), and Tom Wu (British, born in Hong Kong). There are a few white guys, too, including Our Hero who is played by Thomas Jane, a man with no charisma of any kind.

Is anyone disagreeing with me that the worse the action film, the more diverse the cast?

This brave (and doomed) expedition sets off in their ship, which is almost immediately attacked by a ship flown by mutants. Yes, they can fly planes. That’s not good.

The first casualty of the mission happens when they’re landing in the escape pod. Wait for it… it’s Steve Toussaint’s character! The black man!


Shall I say it again?


Seriously, we’re full up. Plenty. A surplus, in fact. It’s been done, it’s been covered, we need to move on. He seemed like the smartest one of the whole crew, and he doesn’t even get to do anything!

So. Getting back to the review.

The next casualty occurs when Tom Wu’s character – just as cool as Toussaint’s character IMHO – stays behind to watch the entrance while the others descend into the ruined city where the machine is buried. Strangely, a bazillion mutants show up and he falls to his death while fighting one in a plummeting elevator. Oh no, wait, he’s still alive, and manages to detonate a grenade to save everyone else. Awwwwww, how sweet.

With two pesky people of color out of the way, they proceed. Have I mentioned yet that Anna Walton’s character doesn’t talk? Nope. Not at all. Until the whole team decides to go rescue one of their own, who fell off a bridge into a pit of mutants, because (as Devon Aoki’s character puts it) “we’re still human.” Human, as in, who gives a fuck about saving humanity and honoring our two colleagues who have died so far, we’re all going to get killed to save this one guy right here. Which doesn’t work. OF COURSE. Only Anna Walton’s character and Thomas Jane’s character are still alive. Jane’s character is alive because he had abandoned the team earlier to save one of his former comrades who was being dragged still alive into the mutant machine, so he only shows up at the last minute.

Walton’s character starts talking now, and we find out she can’t read.

They keep going into the machine and find Aoki’s character and Benno Fürmann’s character (from the German corporate army) being dragged into the machine. They get saved, then we lose Fürmann, and it’s down to one white man, one white woman, and a woman of color.

Who do you wanna bet survives?

I had really hoped Walton’s character would rock, and I was so disappointed. She should have been awesome, especially with the whole two-sword thing, but she chokes at the last minute on killing the mutantized Brother Samuel. Bye bye, white girl. Aoki’s character, a young single mother of two children she sent off on a ship to Mars, is basically just outnumbered, but to add insult to injury she’s chopped in half by a giant fan blade as she falls. Jane’s character inserts a mysterious device into the machine, which the monks said they thought was a bomb. Instead of blowing up, the machine becomes a spaceship and flies away.

I had just asked my husband what exactly the mutants were going to do when they ran out of people to turn into mutants. What is their evolutionary strategy? Apparently, they convince a bunch of really stupid people to bring them the keys to their spaceship back so they can go ravage other planets – the closest of which have a bunch of human refugees arriving on them as I seem to recall from earlier.

Sometimes I feel that a female character is good, but trapped in a movie where she’s treated badly. In this case, we’ve got two women, neither of whom are particularly interesting, and three men of color, two of whom are wiped out before we get a chance to see them in action. The movie is terrible. Everyone in it is powerfully stupid. And they act like they saved Earth, but really all they did was push the problem into someone else’s backyard.


No stars.

This post was originally published on Heroine Content, a feminist and anti-racist movie blog that ran from July 2006 to May 2012.

4 thoughts on “Mutant Chronicles: Disappointment after disappointment

  1. Anonymous

    Hey, not all movies adapted from video games are bad, Skye! Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, while flawed, is a million times better than this crap.

  2. Skye

    @Anonymous, I know, I have big love for Lara – it’s just been a LOOONG time since I’ve rewatched that and I’ve seen a lot of bad video game adaptations since then.

  3. Rich

    It seems to me that the machine left earth to go to Mars and finish the job. I just love how Walton’s character gets to chop a zombie in half before she gets chopped in half herself. Can you say, turn about? Lol When Jane’s character shot the eye thing, I wondered if it could ever be replaced? After all, the zombies only have the one class, warrior. Where is class that maintains and repairs the machine? Let alone dragging still alive people to be converted, dragging them for days or weeks? How where they kept alive?

    Such a waste of a movie!

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