Although this film doesn’t stand out in any particular way, Red Faction offers a mildly entertaining experience that fans of the franchise will probably enjoy.
If you could get the rights to make the film adaptation of any game, which one would you choose? I’m pretty sure the answers to this question will be many, but I bet Red Faction is not on the top of anyone’s list. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Red Faction franchise is any worse than trying to adapt films such as Doom or House of the Dead to the big screen. What is surprising is that Red Faction offers a mildly entertaining experience that fans of the franchise will probably enjoy.
The film is set in Mars, 25 years after the revolution. At the time, famous leader Alec Mason was leading the colonists to success, but a tragic incident was about to change his life forever. Members of the opposing faction went to his house, killed his wife and kidnapped his little daughter Lyra. The only one who managed to escape was his son Jake. Jake Mason goes on to become a member of the exclusive Red Faction and as part of a reconnaissance mission he’s sent to an enemy territory known as Bradbury.
Once Jake and the team get to that place, they realize that some Marauders (a militant outcast group) have been killed. As a consequence, Matriarch Omaya leader of the Marauders accuses the colonists of killing those men and threatens to declare war on them. At the same time, Jake is absolutely sure he has seen his sister leaving the scene of the crime and he’s willing to do anything to get her back, even if that means infiltrating in enemy territory. Of course, no one believes Jake. His father says he misses Lyra so much that he sees her everywhere and his boss thinks Jake’s hallucinating. Thankfully, our hero will do anything to prove them wrong.
So Lieutenant Jake Mason decides to go and find his sister with the help of Tess, a technology expert from planet Earth who apparently knows the exact location of Lyra. Their first stop is some abandoned mines where Jake befriends a couple of wandering Marauders. Their next stop is a bar called Asimov, because that’s the kind of place you visit when you need information about kidnappers, murderers and the black market: a pub.
Usually, characters from film adaptations of games lack motivations and they simply set out to kill zombies, demons and other type of horrendous creatures because they simply have to. In this case, Jake does have a believable driving force: guilt. Even after 25 years of the incident in which his mother has been killed and his sister captured, he feels guilty for not being able to save them.
Unfortunately, once his noble intentions are clearly stated some ridiculous scenes start taking place. When they finally get to the enemy colony, Jake and Tess are discovered and imprisoned. Soon enough, they realize that they have changed their minds and that they don’t want to be in an enemy prison anymore. So Jake asks Tess to take her shirt off so that they can distract a guard (classic…) What they weren’t expecting, was the fact that a female guard was on watch, but they end up hitting her and leaving the place anyway.
In addition, every time they see Lyra she doesn’t seem to remember anything about the events that took place 25 years ago. That’s no problem in itself, after all, 25 years is a long time. The issue is that she remembers portions of the plot at the most convenient moments. As a consequence of this “convenient memory loss,” the story doesn’t unfold in a very natural way, so most of the moments that take place when Lyra is around feel extremely forced and contrived. Although not emotionally engaging, the rudimentary plot serves its purpose well enough.
Apart from that, there are other issues with Red Faction: Origins. With the exception of Jake Mason, the rest of the characters are one-dimensional and just play along with the story. Finally and even though some parts of the story are quite compelling, the plot is intensely forgettable.
Red Faction: Origins may seem like a weird choice for a film adaptation, so it’s ultimately surprising that it works so much better than most of Hollywood’s productions. Although the final product isn’t really recommendable to those who haven’t played any of the games, the film at least manages to do some things right.