The quick of it: Red Faction: Origins TV movie that aired on the Syfy channel, was better than most of the Syfy B-movie projects we see on the net, and interestingly enough, better than some bigger budget video game movies we’ve seen on the big screen.
Red Faction: Origins, directed by Michael Nankin (CSI, BSG) opens with a great little run down on the immediate past of the franchise, showing us the first battle where Alec Mason (Robert Patrick) led the Red Faction rebels to take Mars back from the EDF (Earth Defense Force). We are then shown that Alec is a bit of a drunk, on the downward slide from hero to zero.
He starts a bar brawl that is ended by being arrested by his own son, Jake Mason (Brian J. Smith), who is now a officer of Red Faction. Jake isn’t very enthused by how his dad has spiraled downward in his life.
We later follow Jake and his squad as they head into hostile territory to investigate the wreckage of a warship that recently fell out of orbit. This ship was destroyed in the first war, but as his team gets to the ship, they find marauders in white suits, the White Faction so to speak, raiding it. Jake attacks one of them, but it turns out that he thinks it’s his sister Lyra (Tamzin Merchant), who he thought has been dead a long time.
Jake makes it his mission to find her. He ends up taking the quirky smart Tess De La Vega (Danielle Nicolet) on the trip… even though he tried losing her earlier by ejecting her out of his flyer. She’s persistent.
From there it’s all Jake, pursuing his sister, his dad, discovering that the EDF is still on Mars, discovering truth of it all and in the process, saving Mars.
The story itself delivered much of plot and to be honest, I felt that Red Faction: Origins could have been developed into a 4-hour movie event for the Syfy channel. But instead they had to pack much into a 2-hour TV movie event and I think that hurt the flow of the story editing a bit.
I was a bit disappointed that Kate Vernon didn’t have as large role as I had hoped, yet was enlightened to see Gareth David-Lloyd again. Though I don’t believe we were delivered his character’s exact motivation for why he ended up changing targets in the maniacal manner that we saw. (Nope, if you DVR’d it, I’m not giving things away.)
I enjoyed the Jedi-like skills of Leo (Devon Graye) and his dad, Corvallis (Gordon Kennedy) but again, limited by time, editing took a hit in trying to portray their conflicts with the white-suited EDF (I swear, the first time I saw the EDF, I thought Storm Troopers).
In the end, the Mason family resolution overshadowed the bigger action of the story, but justly so.
Cinema Static Opinion and Rating
As a Syfy Channel Saturday Night Movie, Red Faction: Origins felt a little bit familiar, with somewhat predictable angles and snarky humor yet was enjoyable enough and was a refreshing change of pace from the Asylum knock-offs we sometimes get hit with. Some of the effects were on par with Syfy channel projects and yet it wasn’t bad and it helps that the movie had a decent cast (Smith, Patrick, Nicolet, Merchant) to deliver the story to the viewers.
If you think about it, compared to other big budget movies based on video games, it was better than some of those.