She's become something of an icon in the worst possible sense. Glowering in the background, her face a mask of fury, her eyes piercing and yet remote, this young woman is almost always adept in both samurai-styled swordplay as well as gymnastics skills that rival anything seen on Earth. She speaks little, never dates, and almost always has a torturous family history. You've seen her kicking her way through almost every futuristic action film to hit screens this decade -- from The Matrix to The Chronicles of Riddick. Meet the new sci-fi femme fatale. She's been exclusively designed by Tinseltown engineers to whet the appetites (and other parts) of the largely male, Internet-based fanboy universe.
And God is she getting dull.
In the British sci-fi mess Mutant Chronicles she is merely a background character but her presence speaks volumes about the audience the film is intended for: the geeks. Played this go-round by the impenetrable Anna Walton (she played the very similar, though blonde, Princess Nuala in Hellboy II), here she's a monk swordswoman who has maybe three lines of dialog but is able to slice through just about anything with legs. In Mutant Chronicles, Walton joins a cast of test tube characters designed not so much to emote but to, as lead Thomas Jane says, "fuck shit up."
Like the cast, the plot, special effects, dialogue, and cinematography, the whole of Simon Hunter's Mutant Chronicles is geared toward web-forum chatter. The film has a dense backstory (it's apparently based on a pen-and-paper role-playing game from the late '80s) about a space machine that landed on Earth in the Middle Ages and created a swarm of hook-handed mutants. (It should be mentioned that all of the mutants are identical.) Said machine was sealed up by a "round table" of monk swordsmen and has been fiercely protected for millennia. Alas, a 23rd century "steampunk" war that looks almost exactly like a 20th century war (WWI in particular) unleashes the mutant horde and the world is thrust into chaos. Only a crack team (ethnically diverse but the black guy dies first) can defeat the mutant multitude and stop the devilish machine. I'm sure you can guess the rest.
In the cast: Thomas Jane plays Major Mitch Hunter, leader of the crack team, as broadly as possible; by the end of the film he runs completely out of dialogue and just grunts cheesy one-liners and bellows like an ape in heat. Ron Perlman, buried under terry cloth, effects a gnarly Scottish accent as a warrior monk. John Malkovich(!) is another monk, though he is on screen for two minutes and clearly hasn't rehearsed. Devon Aoki (one of the original fanboy femmes fatale) is as amateurish as ever (but at least seems to be having fun). And the usually reliable Sean Pertwee plays a gruff British Captain who spends all his on-screen time bleeding effusively.
Mutant Chronicles is an independent film and was championed early on as a "bucking the system" attempt to make a sci-fi blockbuster for very little money. And the very little money involved is evident in every second of the film. There isn't a single shot that couldn't be crafted by someone sitting at home playing around with Final Cut Pro. The CGI is bottom barrel and the green screen work (most of the film was shot with these backdrops) is something kids could do better in their basement. But aside from bashing the film's special effects, audiences suckered into seeing this garbage should reserve special bile for the script by Phillip Eisner (Event Horizon) who has essentially taken ten sci fi B-movie scripts, thrown them in a blender and handed the resultant ooze over to director Simon Hunter.
Worse than any Sci Fi Channel original movie, Mutant Chronicles is not only ridiculously lame but sickeningly contrived. Clearly, the only people who will enjoy this film have either been lobotomized or are card-carrying members of the gibbering online hordes that insist that every new science fiction film have a black-leather-clad swordswoman who spin kicks her silent way onto the hard drives of fanboys. Got her!
It's not much, but it's home.